RAIDERS stole four vehicles and £20,000 in tools when they broke into a repair workshop in Hythe.
Nathan Painter, owner and co-managing director of Hythe Garage Services, told the A&T he now found it difficult to leave the premises in Prospect Place overnight after it was targeted during last Friday night.
Having cut a hole into one of the building’s doors to gain entry, the offenders fled with the haul of tools and an Aprilia RSB motorcycle. A Volkswagen Crafter, a Ford Transit van and a Ford Ranger were also taken from the premises’ car park.
Mr Painter discovered the raid after when he arrived for work around 5.20am on Saturday.
“I could see there was debris on the ground in the car park from a tail light, but I just assumed a vehicle had backed into another vehicle,” he said.
“I then saw lights on in the garage, but again I thought maybe one of my guys had been in. Then I saw our main doors where we drive in, and one of them had a hole to the bottom of it. It was a couple of feet across – enough to crawl in.
“I went in through the front door, which was still locked. Inside it was a complete mess.
“Everything was tipped upside down, the toolboxes were open. It was just chaos.”
The stolen bike belonged to one of the garage’s technicians who had bought it only the previous Tuesday and left it in the garage for a service.
Of the other stolen vehicles, the 4×4 had been in for repairs and the vans were both registered to the business.
By Monday, the Crafter had been found after garage staff searched of the area. Abandoned at Nursling Industrial Estate, it had been slightly damaged.
Mr Painter estimated that around £20,000 of tools had been snatched, including various spanners, sockets and electrical hand-tools.
“We couldn’t do any work on Saturday and we’re doing limited work at the moment until we get some proper tools together,” he continued.
“Luckily, they [the raiders] didn’t touch our apprentice’s toolbox, so we’ve been using his tools.”
Security at the garage is set to be strengthened in the wake of the break-in, which was the first at the site in Mr Painter’s 10 years running the business.
“I’m gutted that someone would want to do that,” he said.
“It’s left me in a very non-trusting sort of situation. Do I want to leave the garage at night? Not really.
“We think there were about eight involved – four loitering around and four inside.”
But he added: “The community have been outstanding and really supportive, and we’ve had a lot of good feedback and a lot of people have been out helping to look for things. I would certainly like to thank them.”
Police investigating the break-in are urging anyone with information to come forward. Contact Hampshire officers on 101, quoting crime reference number 44200299615, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.