POLICE are hunting a former pub boss suspected of stealing more than £25,000 from the Hampshire business where he worked.

Stephen Tims, 37, was arrested in connection with the missing cash but skipped bail four months ago and has been on the run ever since.

The alleged theft of takings from the popular Waggon and Horses pub in Lymington was not made public by police at the time.

Now officers have appealed for the public's help in tracing Tims after admitting that all other attempts to find him have drawn a blank.

However, they were unable to explain why they took so long to issue a plea for information about his whereabouts.

Tims was appointed manager of the Waggon and Horses in May last year but spent just six weeks in the job.

The watering hole is owned by the Little Pub Group, which has five pubs across Hampshire.

Company owner Jayne Gillin said police were called in after it emerged that £25,000 of takings at the Waggon and Horses had not been banked.

She added: “Tims was arrested and suspended pending an investigation but skipped police bail.

“He'd worked for us for years as a relief manager and was as good as gold, but problems started when he became manager.

“We were devastated when we found out what had happened. Everyone was gutted.”

Asked about the four-month delay in police appealing for help in locating Tims Ms Gillin declined to comment but said she wanted him found.

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“I would like to see justice served. He has caused an awful lot of people an awful lot of upset,” she said.

The Waggon and Horses, pictured below, is a riverside pub near the Wightlink ferry terminal at Lymington and is looking forward to another busy summer.

Ms Gillin said: “We have moved on.

“The Waggon and Horses is a lovely pub with a lovely reputation. It's back on track and doing very well.”

A police spokesman said Tims was last known to be living in the Bournemouth area. He added: “Officers have conducted extensive enquiries to try to locate Mr Tims and are appealing for the public's help in finding him.

“Police believe he could still be living in the Bournemouth area and may be working in a pub or a bar.”

Tims is described as white, about 5ft 11ins, with blue eyes and brown hair. Anyone with information about his whereabouts should ring PC Jeremy Weston at Lyndhurst police station on 101 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.