A HUNT has been launched for a group of men after a number of raids across Southampton.

Detectives have released these images of men they want to speak to following the incidents, which happened between December 9 and December 20, 2018.

The group is believed to be three or four men who wear clothes similar to tracksuit bottoms, hoodies, hooded jackets, and trainers, who always have their faces covered and carry crowbars and hammers.

The gang also carry large builder's bags or garden waste bags to fill up with cigarettes.

Police are investigating whether a robbery at St James Road at 6am on Saturday is linked to this series of raids.

Detective Constable Lisa Robins said: "We would like to hear from anyone who has information about these crimes and those responsible for committing them.

"We have released CCTV images of the suspects we would like to identify.

"We appreciate that in most cases their faces are covered, however someone may recognise their clothing or build, especially the man on the garage forecourt at 6pm on December 16 filing up the vehicle. You can clearly see his face, do you know him?

"Were you in the area of any of these crimes at the time? Do you remember seeing a group of men wearing tracksuits and face coverings acting suspiciously?

"Perhaps you remember seeing the white VW Transporter van using either registration PF57PGY or MJ59UWU around these dates. If so, we’d like to hear from you."

The group used a white VW Transporter with registration HG10ONW, which was reported to have been stolen from Payne's Road garage overnight from December 9 into December 10.

It was also used with different plates, including PF57PGY and MJ59UWU, which had been stolen from other VW Transporter vans.

At 10pm on Sunday, December 16, an armed robbery was carried out at the Sainsbury's petrol station in Lordshill. Three men were reported to have threatened staff with hammers and crowbars, and stole £1,520 cash and more than £3,500 worth of cigarettes.

At 6pm on the same day, a man driving a VW van with registration MJ59UWU failed to pay for fuel at the Shell garage on Redbridge Road.

In the early hours of Monday, December 17, an aggravated burglary happened at the Red Lion pub in Bitterne Precinct, where four people forced their way in, threatened staff with crowbars, and got away with £1,500 cash.

At 10pm that evening, an attempted armed robbery happened at the Asian Food and Wine Shop on Church Street, where three people armed with hammers forced the owners back into the shop at closing time. The staff fought back and the suspects left empty-handed.

The stolen van was found on December 20, but police believe the group may now be using another vehicle.

Anyone with information can call police on 101, quoting reference number 44180467724, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.