Police have warned gay men and trans people in the Sussex area to be on their guard after a man believed to target gay and trans victims escaped from jail.

Nigel Rowell, also known as Nick or Nicholas, is thought to find victims to steal from through dating websites and newspaper advertisements.

He is not thought to be violent. Police say he befriends victims and gains their confidence before stealing from them.

Rowell was serving a five-year-term for burglary, theft and deception but went missing from HMP Blantyre House in Goudhurst after being granted weekend release in June.

It is believed he has been in Worthing, Eastbourne, Hove, Brighton and Horsham in the last few weeks.

A police spokesman told The Argus: “Rowell is known to be in the Sussex area and it is believed that he may be targeting potential victims for theft in gay male and transgender communities through Gaydar and other dating websites, as well as the Friday Ad paper, and adult video dating web sites.”

Anyone who has any information about where Rowell is should contact Horsham CID on 0845 60 70 999.