AN ART lover fears this distinctive bronze heron statue worth £10,000 might have been stolen to be melted down.

Andrew Coe is appealing for help and offering a reward for anyone who can help find out who was responsible for the theft of the two metre tall statue which was the centrepiece of his garden.

Mr Coe believes that the theft must have been a two-man operation because of the weight and the height of the striking artwork by international sculptor Oliver Strong.

Sussex Police are investigating the night time theft from the garden near Broadford Bridge in Harbolets Road in West Chiltington, near Storrington.

Thieves smashed down a fence to the home’s grounds between 12.47am and 5.39am last Sunday morning and made off with the giant sculpture while Mr Coe and his family slept.

Mr Coe said he had now stepped up security around his home by fitting eight cameras with night vision.

He said: “It is an extremely valuable piece and I'd hate to think that whoever nicked it would melt it down.

“It is a bronze sculpture and is probably worth around £10,000, it is a one off piece.

“Fortunately no one was hurt and to be honest as much as it is valuable it is more the invasion of privacy that bothers us the most.

“They had to flatten a fence to our field that has Alpacas and sheep and ponies in, they left a garden gate open so the dogs could escape and then stole the item all whilst we were in.

“Fortunately no one was hurt and nothing escaped.”

A Sussex Police spokesman said: “A two-metre-tall bronze statue of a heron has been reported stolen from a garden near Broadford Bridge in Harbolets Road, the B2133, in West Chiltington.

“It is thought to have been taken during the early hours of Sunday and due to its weight the owner believes it would have needed at least two people to move it.

"Anyone who may have seen anything suspicious or who has any information concerning the statue is asked to email or phone 101, quoting serial 742 of12/04.

"Alternatively they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or go to"