Children playing with their part-bred Staffordshire puppy in the grounds of a castle estate in Bristol have fallen victim to heartless thieves.

The three boys were approached by a couple while they played with their 15-week-old puppy. The man told them they were being cruel to the dog and that they would report them to the RSPCA.

Upset by the accusations, the children left the estate and as they walked along Kingweston Road a car pulled up alongside them. The man who had confronted them earlier got out and snatched the puppy.

The car of wasa D-reg light brown Rover, while the driver is described as white between 25 and 30, of stocky build with short dark cropped hair and a moustache.

The woman who accompanied him is described as white, aged between 25 and 30 with black shoulder length hair and a white Adidas baseball cap.

The boy’s mother Tracey Hilton told BBC News Online: “I am really upset about it, it was the best dog I ever had. The boys are still distressed as well.”

A spokesperson from Avon & Somerset Constabulary said: “We are appealing for any one with any information or witnesses to the two incidents to come forward.”

Anyone with information should contact Avon & Somerset Constabulary (tel: 01275 818181).