Sussex Police are searching for three men after robbers stole tens of thousands of pounds worth of cigarettes at a service station.

Police are appealing for witnesses after the robbery which occurred at 7.05am on Thursday 14 May at the BP service station forecourt in South Road, Hailsham, as a delivery was being made.

A gang of men in a white Ford Transit van pulled onto the forecourt and ordered the driver to look away from them and then stole bags of cigarettes from his van.

They drove off in their van, which had the registration number VE03 VGG, towards the A22 before stopping in Cacklebury Close. Two of the men then got out of the van and into a silver or grey car before the robbers drove both vehicles away.

The men were wearing yellow high visibility jackets, cream trousers and white socks. They were white and possibly Eastern European.

The delivery appears to have been targeted by the gang. Detectives believe it could be linked to a robbery in Faversham, Kent, on Monday (11 May).

Detective Sergeant Ross Bartlett said: “We think the men may have changed the numberplate of the van since the robbery so I am keen to speak to anyone who may have seen numberplates being changed or who has found any dumped.

“We are working with colleagues in neighbouring forces to see if the van has left the county but are also searching across Sussex in case they are still here.

“We urgently need to speak to anyone who may have seen the two vehicles being driven together or anyone who has any information at all.

“There is no information to suggest the men are violent but if you see them, don’t approach them but instead call 999.”

Anyone with information can call 101 or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.