POLICE are hoping to return a stolen 18th century Bible they believe was destined for eBay to its rightful owners.

Officers seized the book, which is more than 200 years old, along with other stolen property at a house in Highworth.

The large Bible also has a family tree in the back, which traces the Pratt family from 1797 to March 26, 1956.

PC Ian Larcombe, of Highworth police, said: "I believe that the book is the subject of a crime but I don't know who owns it.

"I can't find anything that has been reported to us in relation to a Bible."

The police force chaplain, Richard Armitage, has checked with churches in the area to see if it belongs to them.

"I think it has probably come from a house," PC Larcombe said.

"It's something unusual and it would be nice to find out who it belongs to.

"We don't know the monetary value but it might be a family heirloom and if it is they would obviously like to get it back. I don't know how much it would be worth to sell on eBay but it certainly has sentimental value.

"If anybody recognises it or knows where it has come from they should get in touch."

Chris Albury, auctioneer and senior valuer at Dominic Winter Book Auctions, in Cirencester, said the Bible would not be worth much.

"Bibles are very collectable but because they have been printed since printing began, the collectors tend to be fairly fussy about age," he said.

"In terms of value, value tends to plummet completely once you get to 1700 because there are far too many Bibles around.

"Most Bibles after 1750 tend to not be worth very much. There are certain editions that make an exception, and the binding can make it an exception if it is particularly attractive."

Some Bibles are valuable for other reasons, such as a famous 17th century edition which had a printing error so the Ten Commandments read Thou shalt kill' instead of Thou shalt not kill', and another where the word vinegar' is used instead of vineyard'.

"In Victorian times it became more and more common if a household had one book they had a large family Bible and it was certainly quite common to create family trees in them," he said.

"Outside those families they don't have much value, even in good condition."

Anyone who recognises this Bible should call PC Larcombe at Highworth police on 0845 408 7000.