A tortoise which has been in the same family for five generations has been stolen.

Owners of the animal, which is about 100 years old, said it could not have escaped from the garden and pleaded for the thieves to return it.

Ruth and Alan Lawson, of Sea Saw Way, Brighton, and their two children, Joshua, four, and Elizabeth, two, only inherited the tortoise a few weeks ago after Mrs Lawson's mother died.

The animal is about 12in long and has a distinctive shell with two bits missing near its centre.

Mrs Lawson said: "It was once my great-great- grandmother's so we are not exactly sure how old he is but at the last count he was more than 90."

A £20 reward is on offer if the animal is returned.