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The theft occurred shortly before 8pm on June 13, when two men broke into the dealership Antique Elegance on West Street in the central Surrey town.

Having broken into the flat above the shop but failing to gain entry to the shop premises using a pickaxe and spade, they smashed the front window and carried out the items before making a hasty getaway in a Mercedes Sprinter van with false number plates.

The man pictured is described by police as in his mid to late 50s, 6ft to 6ft 3in tall, of slim build, with short scruffy light grey hair and a short grey beard. He spoke with a southern accent. The second suspect is described as white, in his mid to late 50s, 5ft 7in to 5ft 10in tall, of medium build and with scruffy white hair.

Investigating Officer Detective Constable Dion O'Shea said: "I am appealing to members of the public to look closely at this image and if you recognise this man please tell me who he is. The image clearly shows the first suspect loading a small desk into the back of the van and you can see the stolen paintings which are already loaded into the van."

The paintings taken included two works by the Victorian landscape painter Edward Charles Williams (1807-1881) - Gypsy Encampment Moon Rising, an oil on canvas signed E.C. Williams, exhibited at Royal Academy in 1840 and the British Institute in 1841, and Figures on a Beach, another signed work dated 1840.

This incident followed another theft in Dorking a few weeks before where £70,000 worth of silver was taken from a nearby shop.

Anyone with information should contact Surrey Police on 0845 125 2222, quoting reference number MV/10/2512, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.