A gang of thugs are touring Brighton and Hove by car to attack and rob gay men they can find.

The men have claimed two victims in the last week and detectives fear they will continue picking off targets until they are stopped.

Police are now warning members of the gay community to be on the look-out for a red saloon which the violent gang have been using to catch their prey.

Their latest attack left a 36-year-old Brighton man with such horrific swelling around his face that doctors have not yet been able to establish the full extent of his injuries.

Detective Sergeant Mick Richards, of Sussex Police, said: "This was a really vicious, unprovoked attack on two members of the gay community.

"It is very unusual and we are asking the gay community to be our eyes and ears.

"If they hear or see this car and they are subjected to any homophobic abuse then they should contact us immediately."

The first attack happened on Friday night at about 10pm.

A 39-year-old man and his partner, 36, were walking in Hamilton Road near Preston Park in Brighton.

Four Afro-Caribbean men in a red saloon car pulled up and began to shout homophobic abuse at the couple.

The 36-year-old ran away and hid nearby.

His partner was punched and kicked to the ground.

They shouted anti-gay abuse at him and stole his gold necklace, watch and cash.

He suffered serious injuries to his legs and face and received treatment at Royal Sussex County Hospital.

The 36-year-old partner of the victim became their next victim.

Yesterday morning he was walking alone at the top of Preston Park Avenue, less than half a mile from the initial attack, at about 1am.

He was returning home after buying cigarettes from a garage on London Road when the same red four-door saloon pulled over and four men got out.

Again, they hurled homophobic abuse at him before punching and kicking him to the ground.

They stole his cash before driving away.

The victim was yesterday being treated in hospital for serious facial injuries.

Police last night released details of the attacker in case members of the public can identify them.

One is 5ft 10, around 14 stone and in his 20s. He wore his hair in tight braids.

The other three men had short, almost shaved, hair.

Detectives are currently viewing CCTV footage recorded close to the assaults to see if it includes images of the gang responsible.

And they plan to speak to businesses across the city to look at private surveillance footage in the hope this could help pinpoint where the attackers headed to after the assaults.

Police are particularly keen to speak to the occupants of a 4x4 vehicle, which slowed down to pass the red car during the first attack, to contact them.

The number of homophobic attacks recorded in Brighton and Hove rose by 36 percent last year, up from 135 in 2005-06 to 184 in the 12 months up to March 31.

Broken down into larger categories around 45 per cent of these crimes were assaults, 16 per cent harassment and 13 per cent public order offences.

DS Mick Richards said: "We have passed all the information to gone to all the city gay media organisations and we have spoken to representatives from the lesbian, gay, bi and transsexual community.

"We are looking for people to help us. This isn't the norm, it's really unusual in Brighton and Hove to get this level of unprovoked attack on members of the gay community."

Anyone with any information about the attacks can contact police on 0845 6070999 and quote Operation Leighton or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Have you seen the gang attacking residents? Leave your messages below.