gangs are stealing headlights from expensive 4x4s, detectives have warned.

Owners of the vehicles are being urged to keep the vehicles in well-lit areas, while security is also stepped up at showrooms across East Lancashire in a bid to stop thieves taking the LED lights, which are worth around £2,000 a pair.

Police are investigating whether the parts, taken from Range Rovers, might have been stolen by gangs from West Yorkshire, to make older cars look newer.

The Farnell Land Rover showroom, formerly known as Hillendale, in Nelson was targeted by thieves who stole parts from three vehicles.

Insp Paul Goodall, of Pendle Police, said: “We have had some thefts from Farnell Land Rover and there have been jobs over West Yorkshire way.

“There is a suggestion they could be connected. They are very expensive parts in their own right."

Michael Smallbone, a director at Smallbone Cars, in Gisburn Road, Clitheroe, said police had been visiting dealerships to warn them about the spate. He said thieves were able to strip the vehicles of parts in just minutes.

Mr Smallbone said: “The police called in and told us what was happening.

“It is a worry and it is terrible to hear the parts could be being used for such criminal activity.”

He warned that as well as the headlights, parts like doors, bonnets and grilles were also popular with thieves, causing thousands of pounds of damage.

Jatinder Aujla, operations director for Jaguar Land Rover, said security had been stepped up at showrooms.

He said: “We take this kind of thing very seriously and we are working with the police to ensure that the people who are doing this are apprehended.

“We have come across them smashing a window and even though the alarm has gone off, they just do not care.”

In recent years, Porsches have also been targeted for their headlights.

Anybody with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.