BURGLARS are targeting the homes of restaurant owners because they believe they contain large amounts of cash, Dorset Police have said.

The force has issued a warning to those who work in the industry amid fears they could be being followed home after work, and has urged that they be on their guard when walking or driving home.

Officers said there were six similar incidents in September in Bournemouth and Shaftesbury.

In Bournemouth, addresses were targeted in Castle Lane West and near to Saxonhurst Road on September 29, and at Helyar Road the following day.

Earlier in the month a property off Greenacre Way in Shaftesbury was burgled on September 2, and on September 16 thieves raided properties in King Alfred’s Way and Brionne Way.

Detective Inspector Neil Wright, of the Priority Crime Team, said: “We believe the victims have been targeted as a result of them owning or operating premises which have a high cash turnover.

“Victims have had high value jewellery and large quantities of cash stolen.

“We would advise members of the public to secure their homes to prevent burglaries taking place and to bank cash rather than storing it at home. A safe should also be used to store any high value items, including jewellery and you should try to vary your route home, especially if on foot.”

Restaurant manager Ed Cvjian, of Ojo Rojo in the town centre, said: "It is very surprising, especially in little old Bournemouth.

"Cash should be taken to the bank, you want to have as little on your premises as possible."

Contact Dorset Police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.