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Wanted: search for suspects after £2m treasure raid

Adrian Stanton (left) and Lee Wildman, who police have named in connection with the robbery at Durham University's Oriental Museum. Photo: Durham Police/PA

Police have released photographs of two men wanted in connection with a museum raid in which treasures worth more than £2 million were stolen.

A gang coolly chiselled into Durham University's Oriental Museum through an outside wall, taking more than half an hour, then took as little as 60 seconds to grab two Chinese artefacts which were probably stolen to order.

They had almost certainly checked out the museum lay-out previously as they made their way in the dark straight to the two cabinets, and then made off before police alerted by the alarm got to the scene.

The aftermath of the robbery at Durham's Oriental Museum. Credit: Durham Police/PA

Durham Police named Lee Wildman, also known as Jason or Lee Green - on the right in the photograph above - who is 35, from Remington Road, Walsall, West Midlands, and 32-year-old Adrian Stanton, from West Bromwich Street, also Walsall, as the two men they want to trace.

Mr Wildman was one of five people from the West Midlands who were arrested and bailed pending further inquiries, following last Thursday raid.

Detective Superintendant Adrian Green, who is leading a 40-strong team of detectives told ITV1's Daybreak that it was a "well-planned operation".

Mr Green said: "I am keen to speak to both these men as soon as possible," he said. "They will both be aware of our interest and if anyone knows where they have gone, I would ask them to contact the police or to ring Crimestoppers."

Using torches to see, the gang made straight for two separate cabinets containing an 18th century jade bowl and a Dehua porcelain figurine.

Despite making arrests, the artefacts have not been found and police have alerted the ports, but it is feared they may have already been spirited out of the UK.

The scene of the robbery at Durham's Oriental Museum. Credit: Durham Police/PA

The bowl dates from 1769 and has a Chinese poem written inside, while the figurine is of seven fairies in a boat and stands about 12in (30cm) high.

Both are from the Qing Dynasty, China's last imperial dynasty, and their total value is estimated by auctioneers at more than £2 million.

Mr Green said: "It is obviously well planned.

"The criminals went through the wall of the museum and they were going for two items in particular."

A Dehua porcelain figurine stolen during the raid. Credit: Durham University/PA

He added: "It is a big deal. These items have an estimated value in excess of £2 million and to the people of the university they are absolutely priceless."

His message for the two wanted men was to hand themselves in to West Midlands Police.

"Let's get talking and let's see where their involvement has been in this investigation," he said.

An 18th century jade bowl stolen from the Oriental Museum in Durham City. Credit: Durham University/PA

For more information on this story, visit ITV's Tyne Tees website.