A gang of armed robbers who stole thousands of pounds from a bingo hall could be responsible for a series of raids across the country.

The gang threatened staff at the Gala Bingo Hall, Freshfield Road, Brighton, with knives on the night of Sunday November 19.

In August three men raided the same hall armed with knives and a gun, threatening terrified staff and customers before making off with £10,000.

The robberies bear similarities to at least 11 unsolved raids on bingo halls in recent months.

In October, three men wearing balaclavas held a member of staff at knifepoint and stole £13,000 in small change and notes from Gala Bingo, Pitsea, near Basildon.

They stuffed the cash into a shopping trolley which fell over in the car park, spilling £11,000.

In July robbers stole £20,000 during an armed raid at a bingo hall in Thurrock, Essex. In September three men armed with guns raided a bingo hall in Stockport, Greater Manchester.

A gang burst in to a bingo hall in Walsgrave, Coventry, in November 2005. They were carrying guns and crowbars and forced terrified customers, including two pregnant women, to lie face-down on the floor.

A police spokeswoman said officers had not ruled out the possibility the Brighton raids had been carried out by the same gang and were investigating whether they were linked to others around the country.

She said: "We are liaising with other forces and looking at whether they might be linked.

"We are particularly interested in the times the raids are taking place."

A spokeswoman for Gala, which also has branches in Crawley, Bognor and Worthing, refused to comment on the possibility of a link and said they were continuing to work with the police.

She said: "We have robust security procedures that have been reviewed and strengthened."

The three men who carried out the raid, at about 9.30pm on Sunday night, are described as black, about 6ft and of slim build.

One man was wearing a cream zip-up jumper with what is described as a Scandinavian pattern, blue jeans, white trainers and gloves. The second man was wearing a brown jacket, possibly leather, with knitted cuffs.

He was also wearing dark trousers, white trainers and had light-coloured gloves or socks on his hands.

The third man was wearing a baseball style jacket with the New York Yankees logo, tan coloured jogging bottoms, white trainers, a dark coloured baseball cap and gloves.

Police are also trying to trace a black Mazda they believe was used as the getaway vehicle.