Five kittens stolen during a burglary may not survive unless they can be reunited with their mother, police have warned.

The thieves went into a downstairs flat in Nora Street, South Shields, today (Friday, and made off with the two-week-old kittens from the living room.

The kittens are all black and one has white markings on its feet and chest.

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They are still dependent on their mother and their lives are at risk if they aren't returned to her for feeding.

The burglary happened between 11.15am and 1.30pm. Police are urging any witnesses to the burglary, anyone who knows the whereabouts of the kittens or anyone whose been offered a kitten for sale to come forward.

People can contact police on 101, extension 69191, quoting log number 967 300514, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.