AN ANTIQUES business is offering a substantial reward for information leading to the recovery of a £9,500 life-size bronze lion stolen from its courtyards.

Aslan has been guarding Holloways Garden Antiques courtyards in Suckley for the past five years.

Overnight on Thursday, a gang broke into the family business and lifted the 300kg, life-size bronze sculpture over a 5ft spiked metal fence before escaping across the fields.

It is thought it would have taken at least six people to lift the hefty cat, which measures 2.3m long and 1.2m high and weighs as much as a pony.

Bought from a private house sale in Leicestershire, Aslan has one paw half raised and dates back to the mid-20th century.

Since 2016, the £9,500 bronze has cut a striking figure in Holloways courtyards and was much-loved by staff and customers alike.

Now Edward Holloway, who has run furniture and antiques business Holloways with his wife Diana for the past 30 years, is offering £1,000 for information leading to the distinctive lion’s recovery.

“We’re incredibly upset that Holloways has been targeted and that Aslan has been taken,” said Edward.

“We’ve always struggled to move him around our premises and we’re absolutely astonished they managed to lift him over the fence.

“Thursday night was cold, dark and wet, and both Aslan and the ground would have been slippy.

“It would have taken six, maybe more, people to lift him and it’s highly likely they had a 4x4 to get back out across the fields without getting stuck.

“Someone must have seen something. Someone must know something.”

Edward fears the much-loved bronze was either stolen to order, or may already have been sent to be melted down – for a fraction of its value.

“We’re offering a thousand pounds for information which leads to Aslan's recovery,” Edward added.

“Please do get in touch with the police on the numbers below.

“Rural crime is escalating and the perpetrators need to be caught.”

The NFU Rural Crime Report 2021 shows theft in the countryside cost the UK an estimated £43.3m last year.

The insurer blames “skilled and highly-organised criminals” for the continuing plague on farms and other rural businesses.

West Mercia Police is investigating.

A spokesman said: “Anyone with any information or who may have seen the statue for sale is asked to visit quoting reference 300 of 29 November.”

Alternatively, call Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.