POLICE hunting a gang of convenience store raiders yesterday executed a warrant at a Southampton shop.

Officers quizzed staff at Arrows Newsagents on Windrush Road, Millbrook, throughout yesterday morning.

Detectives also combed through a van outside the shop.

Hampshire Constabulary say the warrant was part of ongoing enquiries in connection with a series of cigarette raids across the area.

These include a £10,000 stash, stolen from Co-Op in Foundry Lane last week, and another at McColls in Water Lane, Totton.

A police spokeswoman said: “Officers carried out a warrant at a newsagents on Windrush Road.

“This was as part of ongoing enquiries in connection with a series of cigarette breaks across the area.

“No arrests were made.”

Speaking after police had left the scene, shocked owner, Nilesh Thakkar, denied any wrongdoing.

The father-of-two told the Echo he had shown police receipts proving he had legitimately purchased cigarettes in the last three weeks.

These included purchases from Costco and Bookers to the value of more than £25,000.

Mr Thakkar, who has run the shop for nine years, said: “I wasn’t in the shop at the time.

“I was called and I was here in ten minutes.

“I had to close for three hours. It is the first time I’ve had to close my shop.”

He added: “I’m upset for the customers who came to buy their milk and bits.

“It’s not about money it’s about the customers.”

Neighbours were also left shocked about the incident.

Lisa Emery, who lives nearby, said: “They are good people in there, they are never any trouble.

“I’m really quite shocked.”

Police are still investigating the cigarette thefts in Foundry Lane and Water Lane, which they believe are linked.

Anyone with information should call 101.