An elderly woman is distraught after thieves stole a garden statue which had been in her family for a hundred years.

The dainty bronze angel was bought by 85-year-old Aileen Lane's husband in the early years of the last century.

Mrs Lane was so fond of the valuable Italian sculpture she named it Angelique.

It had been in the garden of her Angmering home since 1952.

She went on a trip to London but, when she returned, she was horrified to discover the winged statue was missing.

Mrs Lane said: "Angelique was rather lovely and had beautifully-modelled drapery and features.

"I'm frightened to go away now and leave my house. I could do without all this. I'm very upset."

The statue of an angel about to take flight is believed to be several hundred years old. It is three feet tall.

The figure's left arm is missing from just above the elbow.

A police spokesman said: "The size of the statue would have required a vehicle and lifting equipment.

"We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen vehicles in the area that would be capable of moving a statue."