An opportunist thief has escaped with rare books worth thousands of pounds after stealing a suitcase from a car in Snuff Street, Devizes.

The small black case contained six books worth £6,000 belonging to Ivar and Nora Assinder, who live nearby.

Last Friday they had just returned from a holiday in Norway and were hoping to sell the Danish books to a specialist auctioneer in Denmark on their way home.

But the auctioneer was away and they brought the books back with them.

Mr Assinder, 76, a retired engineer, said: “We like to collect books as a hobby and then to sell them on when we can. These books are quite rare and valuable.

“We took most of our belongings out of the car then and some more on Saturday. I think the case must have been taken while we were carrying things back to our home.”

The couple say they will offer a generous reward to anyone who returns the books.

Witnesses are asked to call the police on 101.