RAIDERS stole about 100 trophies from a golf club only weeks after they were taken out of hiding and put back on display.
Officials at Goring and Streatley Golf Club believe the night-time raid was planned.
The thieves drove across the putting green in a 4x4 at 10.40pm on Monday last week and smashed the patio doors, triggering the burglar alarm.
They then ran into the clubhouse bar, where the trophies were kept, and shattered the glass-fronted cabinet before making off with the trophies, many of them made of silver. They left behind only three others which are made of glass.
As they made their escape, they dropped a cup on the putting green.
Manager Mike Evans said: “Our cleaner discovered the theft the next morning. There was glass everywhere and a big void in our trophy cabinet.
“I’m quite puzzled as to how they smashed their way in. They did it with such force that the glass went 20 or 30 feet across the room. They knew what they were after. Clearly someone had come and had a look at the trophy cabinet. They ignored the plasma-screen television, the bar and everything else. The fact that they left the glass ones behind makes it feel very targeted indeed.
“Sadly, I think there could be copycat incidents after this and I would warn other golf clubs to be very cautious.”
The club put the trophies into storage last year following a spate of burglaries at golf clubs. It put them back on display just over a month ago, believing the danger had passed.
Mr Evans said: “Our members were saying how bad it looked to have an empty trophy cabinet so we got them out again. I wish I’d put a sign up saying they were replicas and the originals were elsewhere.
“Some of the trophies were valuable while others were not but they were all valuable to us. The heartbreaking thing is that if any do turn up they will probably be the least valuable ones which aren’t quite so old.
“The older ones would have been made from silver and the thieves were probably looking to smelt them down. The newer ones are made of silver-plated nickel and I guess they will be thrown away.
“We have been engraving winners’ names into the cups for years and to lose all this local history is the real tragedy. Most of our members have got their name on at least one trophy. Quite a few of them enjoy the competitive side of the sport and like winning the silverware.”
The raid was caught on the club’s CCTV and police forensics experts have scoured the scene for fingerprints and traces of blood.
The club has full photographic records of the trophies and the names of each year’s winner. If the originals are not recovered, it will replace them and claim the cost — possibly as much as £100,000 — on its insurance.
Mr Evans said: “We have had hundreds of emails from people saying how sorry they are that this has happened. We’ve also had a lot from other clubs saying they know how we feel as it had happened to them.”