A GANG with connections stretching across to Europe could be behind a string of thefts at marinas, police have said.
It comes after £22,500 of outboard motors were stolen from Hayling Island last autumn.
It’s different people each time but they’re connected to a far more organised network in LithuaniaPC Matthew Gransden
The three outboard engines were stolen from a secure compound at Mengeham Rythe on October 30 last year.
Now PC Matt Gransden, from Hampshire police’s marine unit, said the theft is being linked to others.
He said: ‘They’re a specialist piece of equipment that’s difficult to take unless there’s a market for it and they’re stolen to order.
‘The thieves are very good at what they do. They’re very professional.
‘It’s highly organised and all thought out.
‘It’s different people each time but they’re connected to a far more organised network in Lithuania.’
It comes after police said there were a large number of outboard motor thefts between October 30 and the end of December last year.
Investigations into the Hayling Island theft and others are ongoing.
But PC Gransden has said the thefts involve about three people using a white Ford Transit-type van, targeting a secure compound and striking in the early hours or at night.
Vans using false plates to avoid detection have been used.
And the thieves have appeared to know the site – suggesting reconnaissance – and have cut holes in fences large enough to drive the van straight in.
PC Gransden added: ‘We’re pretty certain the organisation, the gang, is doing a pre-visit and planning on Google Maps.
‘That’s easy to do without leaving the office.
‘We’re certain they’re going there first.
‘What we’re keen for is people to notice that – if people notice things out of the ordinary they should get in contact.’
He added: ‘If anyone has information where these items are going that would be great.
‘We have made arrests but so far not enough evidence to proceed.’
Call police on 101.