SHOPWORKERS in Dorset are being urged to be vigilant after two high-value cigarette and tobacco thefts.

Police issued CCTV appeals recently for two thefts at shops in Verwood and Ashley Heath. The most recent incident took place outside the One Stop store in Horton Road. Three men approached an articulated lorry that was parked for a delivery at around 11.30am on Thursday, April 25, before stealing tobacco and cigarettes from one of the delivery cages on the tail lift.

The delivery driver attempted to stop the offenders but was unsuccessful, and they ran off from the scene, possibly in the direction of the nearby trailway.

Last week police released an image of one of the men they need help to identify in connection with the theft. Officers believe the offenders may have used a silver car during the theft.

They are also keen to speak to a man who was seen to leave the store as the thieves ran away who they believe may have important information. He is believed to have been driving a white 4x4.

Last week police released CCTV images of two suspects after around £700 worth of cigarettes, and other items, were stolen from a Co-op store in Ringwood Road, Verwood.

Two women entered the shop at around 3.05pm on Tuesday, April 9, and confused the cashier, claiming they had paid for the cigarettes the day before and had come to collect them. They made off with the cigarettes without paying.

The women were reportedly seen to get into a navy blue people carrier, possibly a Citroen C8 or a Peugeot 807.

Police Sergeant Carmel Ryan, of Dorset Police, said efforts to identity the women had so far been unsuccessful.

Anyone who recognises the women pictured in the CCTV images is asked to contact Dorset Police via 101.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores, is warning shop workers that items like cigarettes and tobacco are a common target for thieves.

“Retailers should be extra vigilant when transporting or receiving tobacco deliveries to their stores. High value items such as tobacco often targeted by organised criminal gangs.

“All suspicious activity should be reported to police and shared with your wholesaler.”

Members of the public who see cigarettes being offered for sale locally in unusual circumstances are asked to contact police.