A gang of burglars pretending to be taxi drivers is targeting communal flats.

The smartly dressed men are usually wearing suits or long coats when they approach front doors in Brighton and Hove.

If potential victims answer the door, the criminals, described as being of Asian appearance, claim to be taxi drivers or chauffeurs.

If the call goes unanswered it may identify the home as empty, or the men may be let into the block by a neighbour.

The tactic, known as an absence test, has been reported to police several times in the last few weeks.

The guise gives the thieves a legitimate story if they are challenged and this particular tactic is being used in the Kemp Town area of the city.

Police believe the gang are responsible for at least five burglaries in the Marine Parade, Chesham Place and Chichester Terrace area of the city, where communal flats are predominately being targeted.

Witnesses have reported more than one person being involved in the break- ins.

Extra police patrols have been sent into the area and residents are being warned not to ‘buzz in’ people to their block of flats without checking who they are.

Community support officers have been raising awareness on their patrols while also warning people of the risks of putting their Christmas presents under the tree or on display.

A man in his 40s has been arrested in relation to the series of burglaries and police also want to speak to a man captured on CCTV here in connection with the thefts.

They want to speak to him about a burglary in Marine Parade on November 16, when laptops and cash were stolen.

PC Jessica Terrill, the officer in charge of the investigation, said: “We are keen to identify this man, who may have vital information in relation to a series of burglaries in communal flats in recent months.”

Anyone who recognises this man should contact police on 101, quoting serial 0629 of November 16, or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Call 999 if anyone suspicious is in your building.