THREE Hampshire businesses have now been targeted by crossbar-wielding robbers in the space of just three weeks.

Two shops and a bingo hall have all been hit by masked raiders since November 13.

In each incident, robbers have targeted the businesses in the early morning, stealing alcohol, cigarettes and tens of thousands of pounds.

Now detectives investigating the spate of robberies say they are "keeping an open mind" as to whether the tree incidents are linked.

The first business to be targeted in the recent spate was the Co-op store in Seymour Lane, North Baddesley, which was hit by robbers on November 13.

The New Century Bingo Hall in Shirley Road, Southampton was raided of £15,000 on November 24.

The most recent incident took place at the Co-op store on Warburton Road, Hightown, on December 1, when three armed men stored into the shop and stole cash, cigarettes and alcohol

On all three occasions the robbers had crowbars.

Liz Jarvis, Liberal Democrat candidate for Southampton Itchen, described the spate as a "extremely worrying".

She said: "Those responsible must be caught as quickly as possible.

“It’s another sign that Southampton hasn’t been given the focus or attention it deserves.”

Simon Letts, Labour candidate for Southampton Itchen said: “The latest figures tell us that only one crime in fourteen is being solved, some criminals seem to think that they can act with impunity without risk of being caught and punished, and the reckless loss of over twenty thousand experienced police officers in the last ten years nationally, is a major reason this situation has come about.”

Royston Smith, Conservative candidate hit back, saying: “It is very difficult to stop all crime but the Prime Minister’s commitment to recruit 20,000 new police officers on top of the 3000 new officers nationwide already announced will help.

“We also need to find out what is motivating people to carry out these crimes.”