Gruffalo author Julia Donaldson books stolen in Preston

Julia Donaldson
Image caption Titles from among Ms Donaldson's 120 books have been stolen from the Fishergate WH Smith

A gang of book thieves who target works by the new children's laureate Julia Donaldson is being sought by police in Lancashire.

Copies of her books, including The Gruffalo and The Snail and the Whale, worth more than £2,500 have been stolen from WH Smith in Preston since January.

Three men have been captured on CCTV carrying out the thefts.

One piles the books on the floor, then a second puts them in his jacket and meets a third at the entrance.

Oscar nominated

The third man, who is accompanied by a child, then walks off down Fishergate with one of the men while the other man leaves in a separate direction.

Pc Jane Jacques said: "This is a particularly unusual theft in both the number of books stolen and the fact that all the books stolen are by the same author.

Image caption The first man makes a pile of the author's works on the floor to be collected by his accomplice

"I would appeal to anyone who may have been either in or around the store at the time to come forward and contact police if they think they saw anything suspicious."

Ms Donaldson, who has written more than 120 books, was named as the new children's laureate on Tuesday.

She collaborates with illustrator Axel Scheffler to produce best-selling children's books including Room on the Broom, A Squash and a Squeeze, and Zog.

A film adaptation of their book The Gruffalo was nominated for an Oscar.

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