POLICE are warning Hampshire residents to be wary of strangers asking to search gardens for a child's lost guinea pig.

The trick has been used to steal cash and jewellery from elderly residents.

A woman has been calling on householders, who then accompany her to search in a back garden.

While they are outside, someone else enters the house and takes money and jewellery.

Detective Constable Giulio Pizzo said: “The latest trick is a crying woman who claims to be looking for her daughter's lost guinea pig.

“It doesn't matter if they want to search for lost pets or footballs; if you do not know this visitor, shut and lock the door and ring the police immediately.”

At lunchtime on June 4, a man, 93, and a woman, 86, lost two women's rings and cash from a bedroom of their home at Chiltern Drive, Barton on Sea.

On June 3, a man, 81, lost £400, a black wallet and two women's rings in an identical theft at his home in Parsonage Barn Lane, Ringwood.

A 32-year-old man from Ferndown has been arrested on suspicion of burglary. He was bailed, pending further enquiries, until August 12.

Anyone who has information about the burglars or who has not told police about such a visit is asked to ring Lyndhurst CID on 101.