A thief left a family distraught after stealing a toolbox that belonged to their late son.

The sneak thief is thought to have struck shortly after midday on Tuesday last week in Burnopfield. The 73-year-old householder raised the alarm minutes later after discovering a toolbox had gone from the garage.

PC Yvonne Dutson, of Stanley Police, said: "The loss in this case was more keenly felt because the box and the tools were of very considerable sentimental value. They once belonged to the victim's late son."

Police investigating the theft would like to speak to a man who appeared at the garage door at the time the theft was discovered. The stranger is about 5ft tall, of medium build with grey, untidy hair.

He was wearing a dress suit jacket and trainers. A van was also seen in the area that morning.

The stolen toolbox is black, with a red lid. Some of the tools are inscribed with the letters S and H.

Anyone with information should contact PC Dutson at Stanley police station on (01207) 232144