POLICE are appealing for help to trace a North-East shop worker after thousands of pounds went missing from a town centre store.

Management at the Argos branch in the Newgate Centre, Bishop Auckland, County Durham, alerted police on Saturday after discovering more than £40,000 was missing from the safe.

The money is thought to have disappeared after 7.45pm the previous night and there were no signs of forced entry.

After liaising with the Crown Prosecution Service, detectives investigating the case have taken the unusual step in naming an employee at the shop who they would like to speak to.

Gary Crawford was at work on Friday but has not been seen since that night.

Inquiries in and around Coundon, where the 32-year-old lives, and with family and friends in Bishop Auckland, have failed to provide any clues as to his whereabouts.

His car, a white Ford Mondeo, was found in a town centre car park on Sunday.

Detective Sergeant Billy Hugill, of Bishop Auckland CID, said: "We would like to speak to Mr Crawford as a matter of urgency in case he can help us with our inquiries.

"He was at work on Friday but our efforts to find him have drawn a blank.

"If he hears or sees this appeal, he should contact the police as soon as he can, and if anyone knows where he is, we would like to hear from them."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Bishop Auckland police on (01388) 503666 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.