POLICE are hunting a gang of thieves who have committed a series of “distraction thefts” in cafes and bars across Ayrshire.

Officers say the gang have struck in local businesses where people are sitting and have left out mobile phones or other valuable items on the table in front of them.

Police say brazen thieves have engaged with victims then used simple distraction techniques to steal their valuables.

Officers say victims have only realised afterwards that their goods have been stolen.

Ayrshire Police Division are urging people to remain vigilant when they are out and about.

The recently reported thefts have taken place in public areas, such as cafés, restaurants and bars, where those responsible will approach customers who have their phones, wallets or other items of value on the table in front of them.

A spokesperson for Ayrshire Police Division said: “We are currently investigating a number of recently reported incidents which have taken place in North, South and East Ayrshire where a group of men appear to be working together to commit thefts in local business premises.

“We are speaking to staff encouraging them t o remain vigilant and conducting an extensive review of CCTV to identify those responsible.”

“You should keep your valuables, including your mobile phone, safe at all times. Don’t leave it on open display and be aware of those around you. If you see something suspicious, report it.”

Anyone with information on recent incidents or wishing to report suspicious activity should call Police Scotland on 101. In an emergency always dial 999.