THE CRAZE of stealing garden gnomes has reached new heights with the theft of a rare eight foot example.

Police confirmed today (Monday, March 17) they are looking for a giant gnome stolen from the master’s garden at Durham Castle shortly after midnight, on Saturday.

The illuminated blue "gnome" formed part of Echo of the Lumiere display by Durham University students, which ran until yesterday.

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Internationally-renowned artist Goshka Bialek says she is seeing the funny side of it, but wants the gnome back.

Ms Bialek said: “My gnome was very ugly. And that was the point of it. I made it as ugly as I could – to challenge perceptions and provoke debate on gnomes, ugliness, taste and tolerance.

“Some students said it was ugly and shouldn’t be in the master’s garden.

“I said to them many people have gnomes in their garden - and they are very proud of them. And we have to be tolerant. People are entitled to have different tastes.”

Ms Bialek said someone knocked it down on Thursday night and the porters had put it back in place.

But between midnight and 12.30am on Saturday thieves removed the gnome.

Ms Bialek said: “I don’t have any idea who could have taken it. It could be hidden away somewhere.”

Anyone with information should contact Durham Police on 101.