A £35,000 narrowboat has been stolen from a marina.

The 50ft steel narrowboat Rebecca Kathleen was discovered missing from its moorings on the Leeds and Liverpool canal at Botany Bay.

The boat belonged to the Harrison family of Leigh.

They last visited the boat at Christmas and were stunned to find the boat missing from its British Waterways mooring, close to the Lock and Quay pub , on Sunday, March 22.

Tom Harrison, 27, who uses the boat with his mum and dad Carol and Jimmy and his sister Rebecca, said: "At first we thought it may have been moved by British Waterways but we soon found out that it had been taken by strangers.

"We've had it since 1998 when it was left to my mum by my uncle James when he died.

"He had fitted it out and done it up so it's of great sentimental value to all the family. It's even named after my sister and gran."

Mr Harrison said that two men, one with ginger hair, had been seen on the boat by other canal users.

They said they were picking the boat up for purchasers from the south.

Peter Clark, from C Claims Adjustors, which is dealing with the theft, said there had been a recent crimewave on the waters, with increasing numbers of leisure boats going missing.

He said: "In the past year I would guess there have been around 70 to 80 similar thefts, whereas in previous years it would be around 10 on average.

"It's appropriate in this case that there is an area in the Botany Bay complex called Puddletown Pirates because these real-life pirates are stealing valuable boats."

Anyone with information should contact Chorley police on 01257 246225 or C Claims Adjusters on 0208 502 6644; email: cclaimsuk@aol.com.