Some of the itmes stolen from Hanson’s in the overnight raid before their sale.

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The culprits are believed to have viewed the sale on Friday, March 7 before returning in the early hours of March 8.

Hansons March 27 sale has been cancelled as a result and all lots will now be re-entered into their April 23-24 sale at The Mackworth Hotel, Derbyshire.

Charles Hanson, of the auctioneers, told ATG it was a carefully planned theft with a selection of higher value items taken, including 32 Royal Crown Derby paperweights and various other 1128 pattern items from a single-owner collection, as well as jewellery and pocket watches.

He expressed his regret to vendors and buyers, adding: "I am very upset and outraged by the theft."

Forensics teams have been gathering evidence at the crime scene in an effort to recover the items. All stolen items are covered by Hanson's insurance and vendors will receive a full payout for any items taken.

Hansons plan to have a member of staff sleeping in the saleroom overnight before their next sale to improve security.

Anyone who has information which may help to recover the items should contact Sergeant Bacon of Derbyshire Police on 01773 571879, quoting incident number 295.