THE HEAD of a Roman statue has been stolen from Snoopers Paradise after a picure of it was posted on Instagram.

A brazen thief sawed the lock off cabinet 79 of the vintage emporium and stole the 'artefact' sometime between Tuesday 28 and Thursday, September 30.

The theft follows a spate of shoplifting at the long-established shop in Brighton’s North Laine.

Staff report catching several shoplifters each week and management have begun cracking down hard on anyone caught stealing from the site, home to more than 90 small businesses and independent traders.

The heavy, bronze female head of approximately three inches tall, is said to have originally be dug up from the Thames.

It had previously showcased on the shop's Instagram account, with the caption: "Snoops is like a weird box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get…

"Check out this genuine Roman artefact dug up from the Thames in cabinet 79. (Find it through the turnstile on the right).”

The thief is thought to have discreetly sawn the lock off the cabinet,which was full of other objects including old coins and jewellery, before taking the piece which was priced at £165.

Jenny Hurren, spokesperson for the company said: “We are outraged at this latest theft which has left one of our valued stallholders crushed.

"To make matters worse, he was selling this item for a friend.

"Stealing from small independent traders like this is abhorrent and we want to send a clear message to anyone thinking of shoplifting from Snoopers Paradise: We will not hesitate to prosecute.”

New CCTV and an anti-theft radio have been installed in the shop and management have increased the number of plain clothes staff on duty in an effort to prevent the recent surge in theft.

Brighton and Hove Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) are also assisting in the investigation.

Sarah Morris of the BCRP said: “Brighton and Hove BCRP is delighted to welcome Snoopers Paradise as a new member to the partnership and we will do all we can to assist in the retrieval of this item.

"With nearly 500 members in the city we would urge all business to join us in the fight against crime and disorder to address the common problems of business crime.”