A CREDIT card thief has stolen thousands of pounds after targeting guests at Ribble Valley hotels.

Detectives said they needed to catch the crook before he strikes again after two hotels in the area were hit within a week.

The thief first struck at the Eaves Hall Country Hotel in West Bradford when he entered the building during a conference and stole a credit card from a guest's coat pocket between 12.15pm and 1pm on May 7.

Police said he later called the hotel reception purporting to be a member of staff from a bank and asking the reception staff to speak to his victim.

The thief then told the victim that his card had been stolen and that he needed to ask them some security questions, police said.

But the victim realised that it was a scam and alerted hotel staff and the police.

However, police believe the thief struck again at the Stirk House Hotel, Gisburn Road, Gisburn on Thursday night.

“This time the victim was not so lucky and she was conned by the man as she answered the security questions giving this criminal the details he needed to access her account." said Sergeant Gary Hennighan, of Clitheroe police.

Police said the thief withdrew £5,000 from the woman's bank account at a cash point in Blackburn.

Now, officers have contacted hotel owners across East Lancashire warning them to beware of the scam.

"It was a sophisticated operation and we are concerned that it could be happening elsewhere. We have been in touch with neighbouring forces to see if anything similar has happened," added Sgt Hennighan.

“This is a very serious crime and we need to catch this person before he strikes again.”

Detectives are now reviewing CCTV footage from a bank in Blackburn and will also be asking the hotel owner's for their telephone records.