A YOUNG team of up-and-coming motocross racers are “utterly devastated” after thieves stole £55,000 of bikes and equipment less than two weeks before the start of their season.
CCTV captured the break-in on Sunday evening as four masked intruders forced their way through a roof before using crowbars to get into an industrial unit used as storage by Team Green Kawasaki at Milford Trading Estate.
Team manager Jeff Perrett, from Milford, said the loss of the bikes was a major blow for his teenaged riders, who are set to start the 2020 motocross season in a matter of days.
He told the A&T: “I feel desperately sorry for our young riders. They have trained so hard and put so much into it and then this has happened just as we are about to start the season.
“It is a real kick in the teeth for them. Lewis Hall is one of the most promising stars on the circuit – he was a youth champion and this will be his second full season in the adult pro racing team. During the raids two of his bikes were taken.
“He has trained so hard and is so dedicated to the sport. I am utterly devastated for him.”
Jeff continued: “The only thing that I am very thankful for is that Lewis wasn’t in our workshop at the time. He had been there alone only half an hour before – and I don’t like to think what could have happened to him if he was there when they broke in.”
CCTV footage showed the group of four masked men arriving at Milford Trading Estate in a white Transit-type van at around 8.30pm on Sunday.
They parked outside the unit to obscure the view from the camera – but film from another unit opposite showed they spent about 10 minutes standing outside planning the best way to gain entry.
Jeff said: “Obviously the building is alarmed but the alarms are linked to the doors so they must have been working out another way in.”
Having gained entry to the unit, the intruders ran downstairs and pulled out all the wires to disable the CCTV inside. They used a crowbar to smash the lock on a set of steel doors leading to the workshop and cut the padlock on a second set of internal wooden doors.
Jeff said: “At this point the alarms were not going off because they were linked to the doors. But once they were inside they would have realised that they’d have to get everything ready because the only way out with the bikes was through the doors, and as soon as they were opened the alarms would go off.
“The thing that keeps running through my mind is that it must be someone in our sport. We had a good security set-up – it really wasn’t any easy job to get in.
“Once they were in, they knew exactly what they were looking for – we have stacks of tyres and equipment ready for start of the season which are worth hundreds of pounds, but it was just the bikes they were interested in.”
As well as the two bikes owned by 17-year-old Lewis, the raiders also made off with teammate Ryan Mawhinney’s new practice bike, Jeff’s new 2020 KX450 bike, his brother Shawn’s much-loved and rare 1989 vintage Honda CR500, and another Honda CRF450.
Jeff said: “We were completely set up and ready to go for the new season. The bikes were proper race bikes that we had spent a lot of money on.
“Lewis’s had very specialist high-end suspension that was worth £7,000 alone – it’s really unique stuff, because we’re a high-end race team.
“We were all set to have a team photoshoot this week ahead of the start of the season.”
The four men finally exited the unit at around 10.05pm on Sunday evening when they were captured on CCTV loading the bikes into the back of the white van.
Alerted by the alarms, a friend of Jeff arrived just as the raiders were driving off. Police were called but, according to Jeff, did not attend and instead asked him to gather his own evidence and submit any useful CCTV footage.
Jeff said: “I’m pretty upset that the police haven’t even been able to send anyone out to have a look. I understand that resources are limited but this isn’t just a pushbike being stolen from outside a shop – it was a properly organised raid. They knew exactly what they were doing.”
He added: “After this I am seriously considering whether I even want to continue running this team – it is a sport I love, but it is a lot of hassle.
“If I carry on I will have to upgrade all the security, and our insurance premium will go up. It is definitely something I need to think hard about.”
A spokesperson for Hampshire police confirmed the force was called at 10.40pm on Sunday with a report of a burglary at a unit in Laundry Lane.
He said: “Five motorcycles and racing equipment were reported as stolen. It is believed a white van was seen in the area at the time.”
Anyone who saw the break-in or has any information about the bikes should call 101 and quote 44200032474.