A MOTORBIKE gang were in a dramatic high speed chase with police after stealing cigarettes from a shop.
Officers are linking the crime to other thefts at shops across the county.
Police were called to the Co-op store in Botley Road at 3am this morning, to find the gang making their getaway, having smashed through a glass door.
A roadblock was erected on Rownhams Lane, but the thieves managed to ride around it prompting officers to give chase.
They tailed the gang through Rownhams and into the Lordshill area of Southampton, where they lost track of the suspects at Fair Isle Road.
It is believed that a Derbi Cross City 125 motorcycle stolen earlier from Folland Close at North Baddesley may have been used by the gang. It was later found abandoned at Botley Road in the village.
However, officers say they used a different motorbike to flee with area with garden waste bags containing stolen cigarettes.
Descriptions have been issued of two of the suspects. One was wearing a dark tracksuit top with navy bottoms and trainers and another was dressed in dark clothing and was wearing a grey baseball cap. No details have been realised about the third suspect.
A police spokesman said the break-in may be linked to others across Hampshire including one at Martin's Newsagents in Romsey Cornmarket last June when officers foiled the raid.
In that incident two people escaped through the town on a motorbike and cigarettes that the would-be thieves bagged up in green garden waste bags were left inside the shop.
A spokesperson for The Co-operative Food said: “In the early hours of this morning our store on Botley Road, North Baddesley, was broken into and a large quantity of cigarettes was stolen. The store was closed for investigations until 1pm this afternoon, we would like to apologise to customers for the inconvenience this caused.
“CCTV has been given to the police and, as with any incident such as this, we would appeal for anyone with information to come forward.”