POLICE have launched an investigation after a new boat engine worth £6,000 was stolen from a Hampshire diving club.

Scuba divers from the Calshot Sub-Aqua Club are appealing for help after the Yamaha 150bhp two-stroke engine was taken from a locked facility on a New Forest farm.

Club officials say the boat was also badly damaged when the thieves struck.

Peter Holding, committee member and marketing officer, said the loss of the engine has seriously affected the club's diving programme.

He said: “We have a great many students and new members currently going through an intensive training programme, myself included, as I'm currently doing my dive leader course.

“As a club we also had a boat handling course which was to run in October but that is now seriously in doubt. It is really frustrating and very annoying to say the least.

“Other BSAC affiliated clubs are trying to help us but they have their own busy dive schedules to meet so it isn't easy to accommodate our needs too. But if any club or individual can help us either by loaning us a boat or engine we'd be delighted.

“Whoever took the engine cut through cables and pipes. For instance fuel lines, pipes to the oil reservoir, throttle cables, steering lines and even lines to our echo location system were cut or simply pulled away.

“We understand, from the police officer dealing with the theft, that two other boat engines were stolen in the same period and in much the same way. We would certainly warn anyone who has an expensive boat engine stored with a boat to be very vigilant.

“The whole thing is now in the hands of our insurance company and we will have to wait and see how long it all takes.”

Anybody who can help or who is interested in joining the Calshot Divers should ring 0870 7652722 or email info@calshotdivers.com