THIEVES targeted a family-owned business in a Hampshire town and made off with 80 car batteries worth about £400.

They were stolen from New Milton Tyres in Old Milton Road between 5.30pm on Tuesday and 8.20am the following day.

Managing director Mark Williamson said the thieves took scores of old batteries that were due to be collected for recycling.

He added: "The burglars dismantled a side gate and cut through a metal door to reach the workshop, where they emptied a ban that's about 3ft square.

"They left the bin but took the batteries, probably in a van.

"The batteries were no longer serviceable but must have been worth about £400. There's very little lead in them these days but they include other materials that can be recycled.

"We were shocked and surprised when we discovered the theft."

New Milton Tyre Company is an independent tyre, battery and exhaust centre that has been owned by the same family for more than 40 years.

A police spokesman added: "The lock on the rear gate was forced and entry gained to the building."

Anyone who has information, or is offered car batteries for sale in unusual circumstances, should call Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44180030494.