A man has offered a £50,000 reward for the safe return of 11 puppies stolen from his home by a gang at knifepoint.

Mark Orley said the dogs, taken from Loughton in Essex, "could die in the next 24 hours" as they are too young to be weaned.

He said on Facebook that three people threatened his boy then stole the animals.

Credit: Facebook/Mark Orley

Essex Police said a man in a hi-vis jacket, posing as a utility company worker, knocked on the front door and two balaclava-clad men burst in when it was opened by a teenage boy.

The men threatened the boy then stole seven French bulldog and four dachshund puppies from the address in Hogarth Reach at about 2pm on Monday, the force said. Two handbags and a mobile phone were also stolen.

We are extremely concerned about the welfare of the puppies as they are very young and they've been separated from their mother.

Detective Constable Jody Greenfield, Loughton CID

Police are appealing for witnesses and those with CCTV or dashcam footage to call 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/157577/18.