BURGLARS smashed their way into two Ribble Valley farmhouses with a sledgehammer before stealing high-value jewellery.

Police said the weapon was stolen from an outbuilding at a farm in Downham and was then used in two burglaries.

The wooden door of Laneside Farm in Pendle Road, Downham, was smashed before intruders searched the property and stole a number of items of jewellery on September 9 between 8.20am and 6.30pm.

Police said the burglars then struck at an isolated detached farmhouse named Key Hills farm, Martin Top Lane, Rimington.

They used a sledgehammer to gain entry into the house between 12.45pm on September 8 and 5.30pm on September 9.

Detective Sergeant Nigel Watson of Clitheroe CID said: “We are connecting these two incidents.

"The sledgehammer stolen from the first property appears to have been used in the second burglary.

“These are very unusual incidents which have taken place in rural and remote properties where the burglars have smashed their way through the doors and caused a substantial amount of damage as well as taking items of high value.”

Items taken during the first included a pink velvet case containing a silver watch with an elasticated nine-carat gold bracelet strap with a pattern around the middle, copper coins, a silver Next watch, Giorgio Armani black glasses, a green wooden model house and a lump hammer.

Detectives said a LCD TV was taken during the second burglary but they were still in the process of compiling a full list of the items that were stolen.

DS Nigel Watson urged any witnesses to come forward.

He added: “If anyone saw any people or vehicles in the area acting suspiciously at the time of the burglary we would like them to get in touch with the police immediately.”

Anyone with information should call Clitheroe police on 01200 443 344 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.