The hunt is on for a ‘thief’ who stole a handbag from a woman. The suspect is described as 1.25 ft high, with pointed ears, hairy and red.

Jeremy Clark, 38, told The Argus how he was at home in Maple Drive, Burgess Hill, when he spotted a fox making off with his wife's handbag - then return it to her.

He was preparing to go to hospital with his wife, Anna, 35, when the cunning carnivore made his move.

He added: “We were in the [estate's] car park and he looked at me for a few seconds before letting out this feeble yelp.

“Next thing I knew he had my wife’s handbag in his mouth and was running towards the bushes.”

Jeremy screamed at the fox to drop the bag but he scuttled off out of sight.

He added: “Anna had everything in there: her phone, money, purse, keys and letters. I couldn’t believe the fox had just taken it – it was mad. I thought that was it.”

But a few minutes later the guilty looking fox crept back into the car park with his bushy tail between his legs. In his mouth was Anna’s bag which he dropped at her feet before running off.

Jeremy added: “I have no idea why, we couldn’t believe it. We see the fox around quite a bit. I think people feed it.”