POLICE are hunting a serial thief who has targeted more than ten businesses in towns across the New Forest and parts of Dorset.

Officers have released a CCTV image of the man they believe has struck at cafés, shops and pubs several times in the county and in neighbouring Dorset, pocketing hundreds of pounds.

Over the past 12 months he is thought to have stolen at least eight times in Hampshire and at least three times in Dorset – each time getting away with up to £30.

Investigations suggest that he started targeting small businesses a year ago in Brokenhurst, but since then he has ventured to Winchester, Ringwood, Lymington and into Dorset.

Each time he goes to pay for a cheap item using a large denomination note – such as a £50 note – and then confusing the sales assistant by claiming he hasn’t received the right change.

Small businesses across the region are being warned to look out for this man and if they think they have fallen victim to him, report it immediately in a bid to help them catch him before he strikes again. He is described as white and in his 40s.

PC Stephanie Rudland said: “We believe this man is committing multiple thefts at various pubs, shops and cafés in the Hampshire and Dorset border areas. We need to hear from anyone who can help identify him.

“We also need to warn staff at other similar venues and retail sites throughout Hampshire and Dorset to be wary of anyone who tries similar scams.”

Anyone with information should contact PC Rudland on 101.