Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Burglars steal machinery in night raid on charity nursery

Burglars steal machinery in night raid on charity nursery

BURGLARS escaped with thousands of pounds worth of equipment in a raid on a rural trading estate.

They broke into units belonging to Greenshoots, a gardening therapy charity, and James Blyth Contracting, an agricultural contractor, based at Manor Farm in Peppard.

A tractor, grasscutter and strimmer were stolen from a lock-up belonging to the charity, which is part of the Ways & Means Trust.

The business lost a Honda 450 quad bike, tools, a rooting bucket for a digger, a whacker plate and a laser level worth a total of about £6,000.

Police are investigating the burglary, which happened during the night of Sunday, December 16.

David Wise, site manager at Greenshoots, arrived for work at 7.40am the next day and found the padlock on the main entrance gates had been broken with a boltcutter.

He then found the doors to the charity’s 20ft container wide open and the machinery missing.

The double gates were propped open by plant pots, so the vehicles could be driven away.

Mr Wise said: “It is just
gutting.”

The raiders are thought to have smashed their way through a fence to gain access to the Greenshoots part of the site and avoid being captured on CCTV.

Tyre marks on the ground suggest a tractor and the quad bike had been driven across the site. The culprits even used wooden panels fron a vegetable plot to drive along to get off the wet, muddy ground on to the road.

The trust uses gardening to help adults with learning or physical disabilities, or poor mental health.

Trust chief executive Frances Woolaway said: “The charity has been going for 50 years and we are totally self-sufficient, so to lose such a significant asset — we just don’t need it, especially at Christmas time.

“They have taken away an opportunity from learning-
disabled adults.

“The thieves knew what they were doing. They were stealing to order. They came with a shopping list and they knew where our tractor was.  Where the quad bike is parked is not visible from the road. You would have to know where you were going. The police think we had been cased.”

She added:  “All my team put in such efforts to raise money for the charity. For people to take away such an asset is just horrible.”

Charity administrator Denise Jones said she was “disgusted” at the break-in.

She said: “It just makes you feel sick that anyone could do this to a charity. They do not care, do they? We have to replace the locks and fencing and it is all cost. The police were lovely but they said that because of the nature of it, they didn’t think they would be able to get anyone.”

James Blyth, who owns the agricultural business, said: “There must have been two or three of them. We have insurance but I don’t suppose they will pay for all of it.”

For people who would like to make a donation, the trust has set up a Virgin Money Giving page at https://bit.ly/2UYhKh0

Police are appealing for information. Call the Thames Valley Police non-emergency number 101 and quote crime reference number 43180383990.

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