POLICE are urging residents to lock up their valuables after two villages near Winchester were targeted by ‘an organised gang’ who struck 14 times in just four hours.

Thieves took golf clubs worth £2,500, gardening equipment and power tools from sheds and garages.

Eleven incidents were initially reported, but updated figures were released yesterday.

Sgt Mark Lamper, of Alresford Police, said he thinks an organised gang from elsewhere were responsible.

It is believed it happened in the early hours of last Wednesday morning (September 24).

The first call came in at midnight after a disturbance in Cheriton – where 10 of the incidents occured until 4am.

Two males were seen attempting to break in to a garage in the B3046, which runs through the village, but fled when residents shouted at them.

Three fuel containers were taken from a property in School Lane, and were later located by a police dog having been abandoned by the offenders, said Sgt Russ Hodges of Countrywatch.

Nothing was taken from six outbuildings - three in The Goodens and three in the B3046.

Power tools and a lawnmower were taken from a garage in the main road (B3046), as were two ‘high-value’ push bikes from another property, said Sgt Lamper.

He said the calls came in from September 24-27, when people noticed items were missing, but it was thought the incidents occurred around the same time.

From September 20-27 in Kings Worthy, near Winchester, two sets of golf clubs worth £2,500 were taken from properties in Hinton Fields and Campion Way, and two push bikes from Hinton Fields and one from Ilex Close.

Just days later, on September 26, a radio was stolen from a car in Freemans Yard, in Cheriton, with another attempted theft in the same road.

Sgt Lamper said: “We don’t think that the incidents in Cheriton are related to Kings Worthy.

“We urge people to secure their valuables, don’t leave them on display and register them on immobilse.com.

“We are increasing foot patrols, especially in the evenings. These people obviously were looking for specific stuff. They usually target one place and then move on and do it somewhere else.”

He said the force would work closely with the Neighbourhood Watch to keep residents informed.

Patricia Culpin, a NHW coordinator in Cheriton, said: “That's staggering. I knew about one but I didn't know about the others. If it's a gang they will come through a village, but that is the most we have ever had.

“We have warned people to lock everything up.”

On October 10-11 Winchester Rural North Safer Neighbourhoods Team are hosting a crime prevention event in Springvale and Fraser Roads, in Kings Worthy.

Anyone with information is urged to call police on 101, or the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, where information can be left anonymously.