CONTINUING the recent spate of sophisticated country house thefts, valuable antiques were stolen from two homes in the south east of England in the space of a week last month.

In both cases the thieves were thought to have targeted specific items and were in and out of the property in a matter of minutes.

Late on Tuesday June 15, or in the early hours of Wednesday June 16, a cache of antiques valued at in excess of £1m were stolen from a private residence in Wiltshire. Probably carried away in two pairs of Georgian brass-bound peat buckets, silver by Paul Storr, Vincennes porcelain and ormolu by Matthew Boulton were among the items stolen by a gang or three or four men.

Subject to the usual conditions, a "very substantial reward" is being offered for information leading to a recovery.

On the evening of Wednesday, June 23 thieves stole Continental porcelain and other antiques from a home in Andover, Hertfordshire. In addition to pieces of Sèvres, around 30 pieces of 18th century Meissen were taken - many of them from an ornithological dinner service - plus a pair of 2ft (61cm) high schneeballen vases, one with a broken wing tip pictured right.

Information on the Wiltshire theft should be directed to DC Taylor of Swindon Police Station on 01793 507912 quoting crime reference number DH/567/04.

Information on the Andover theft should be directed to DS Darren Rawlings of Andover CID on 01256 405140 quoting crime reference number 44-WS-06059-04.