POLICE are offering a substantial reward for the return of firearms stolen during a burglary in North Hampshire.

Between 5.45pm and 10.30pm on Wednesday, December 5, offenders broke into a house in North End, near to East Woodhay, West Woodhay and Highclere.

Once inside they stole a number of items including silverware, jewellery and cash. They also took three shotguns, two rifles and ammunition which were stored in a locked cabinet as required by the conditions of the owner’s licence.

A pair of distinctive Celestron binoculars were also taken.

An outbuilding near to the house was also broken into on the same evening and a variety of tools were stolen.

Chief Inspector Steve Wallace said: “Firearms in the wrong hands can be extremely dangerous. We will not tolerate people with guns on the streets of Hampshire and are working hard to ensure these are recovered at the earliest opportunity.

“It appears that this may have been an opportunistic burglary and the offenders were not targeting the property for the firearms kept inside. However, it is important that we recover these items as soon as possible.

“Were you in the North End and East Woodhay and West Woodhay area on Wednesday evening? Did you notice anything suspicious or see any suspicious vehicles? Do you know where these firearms may be now?

“If you know anything about this incident or saw anything suspicious on Wednesday evening please contact police. Even something you may think is not significant may be able to assist our investigation.

“Officers will be conducting reassurance patrols in the area throughout the weekend and into next week.

“If you have any concerns, please speak to an officer or call 101.”

Anyone caught in possession of a firearm will face tough penalties which could result in a prison sentence.

If you have information about the theft or the firearms, please contact Basingstoke Police Station on 101 or call the charity Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where messages can be left anonymously.

Chief Insp Wallace said the firearms can be handed in to any police station.