POLICE believe an organised gang could be behind a spate of cycle thefts in Hampshire.

A total of 82 bicycles were stolen in the southern half of the New Forest between April and November, an increase of 34 per cent on the same period last year.

Almost 30 of the bikes were taken between October 1 and November 9, with 13 of the thefts occurring in Lymington town centre.

A police spokesman said: “Owners are locking their bikes and leaving them in highly visible places, but people are disabling the locks and spiriting the cycles away.

“The thefts could be the work of an organised gang - that's certainly one of our lines of inquiry.”