THIEVES 'in hoods and masks' are raiding work vans in a hunt for expensive tools, police have warned.

Officers have called for Gillingham residents to be wary after a series of thefts from parked vehicles, as well as from sheds and garages.

Most of the raids have taken place in Wyke.

Inspector Simon Perry, of Dorset Police, said the criminals are looking for work tools. Makita drills and a circular saw are among the items stolen between Thursday, February 20 and Sunday, February 23.

Witnesses say they saw three white men wearing hoods and masks in the area at the time. An early model silver Ford Focus hatchback was also seen.

"A thorough and detailed investigation is under way into these thefts and police have increased patrols in the area," Insp Perry said.

“I am keen to hear from anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area at the relevant time, or who may have recently come across work tools for sale in unusual circumstances, to please get in touch."

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police vi or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200027972.