A VALUABLE piece of local history has been stolen from the home of an Orpington resident.

Margaret Leates, 50, of Crofton Lane, was owned a picture by R M Rayner for 20 years after buying it at a local exhibition.

The oil painting depicted a local scene with a view of the White Hart pub and Orpington Church. It dates from the 1880s and is worth several thousand pounds.

Police are hunting for the person who broke into the house at around 2pm on Thursday, October 18.

But Mrs Leates is angry that a piece of Orpington's heritage could have been taken away from the area.

She said: "I am extremely upset this has happened. I believe it is important to keep these objects in the area for posterity.

"So for someone to break in and steal it is infuriating. I want local people to look to see whether it has ended up in a car boot sale. If it has they have to tell police so we can bring these people to justice."

The burglary unit at Beckenham police station is looking into the matter and wants to speak to any lorry drivers or leaflet distributors who were in the area between 12.30pm and 2.30pm.

The police also want help in finding anyone who saw a white car parked on the road between these times. The car is believed to have a man sitting at the wheel.

Call Beckenham police on 020 8284 8989 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

November 2, 2001 10:27