DOZENS of pieces of miniature furniture reported stolen from a doll's house at a Worcester museum were pulled out of a hole in its roof a week later by a small child.

Staff at the Museum of Local Life, who put in hours of painstaking work to paint the tiny items, were devastated when about 45 went missing from the Children's Room last week.

They urged people to be on the lookout at car boot sales after blaming thieves for slyly nipping in and making off with the handmade pieces.

But to their surprise, a week after searching the museum and reporting it to the police, a staff member walked in to find a four-year-old child holding up one of pieces.

"We'd been so upset and had even started accusing people," said Nicole Burnett, social history officer at the Friar Street museum.

"Even the police officer who came round said how awful it was.

"We couldn't believe it when we saw the boy waving one of the pieces in the air."

The embarrassed historian said it was only when he said "mummy look what I've found in the attic", that she thought, "what attic?"

"There's a tiny hole in the ceiling, no bigger than a tot's hand, and we didn't think it led anywhere," she said.

"But when we took the roof off, lo and behold, there they all were.

"A child must have been playing at house removals."

Around half the pieces in the timber-framed replica Tudor house had been pushed into the hole, including log baskets, tables, chests, figurines, loaves of bread and candles.

Only days ago, staff were resigned to the fact young visitors to the museum this half-term would be presented with a barren, empty house with no dolls to play with.

"Some of our staff spent hundreds of hours on the furniture and figurines, and the children were all very disappointed," added Miss Burnett.

"We just want everyone to know that everything is back in place."