CCTV: Raiders take £20k tools from lockup as firm is targeted for seventh time
“MY life and business has been turned upside down.” These were the words of a man whose New Forest tree surgery business was hit by thieves for the seventh time.
Thousands of pounds of power tools were stolen when three men targeted Westbeams Tree Care in Brockenhurst in the early hours of Easter Monday in what managing director and owner Oliver Rickman believes was a planned raid.
The masked intruders drove into the firm’s Westbeams Farm base, off Lyndhurst Road, at around 2.15am in a white Volvo V40 estate.
They smashed the driver’s side window of a Ford Transit van blocking a lock-up in which the tools were kept before rolling it out of the way.
Mr Rickman rushed out after being awoken by burglar alarms set off when entry was forced to the shipping container with a large crowbar.
But the trio had already removed a large quantity of tools valued at between £15,000 and £20,000, and were driving off by the time he arrived.
“This break-in was clearly well orchestrated as they knew exactly what they had come for and that someone would be down here as we live on site for security,” Mr Rickman told the A&T.
“It took me two minutes to get into the yard area, at which point the thieves had cleared as many of our chainsaws, hedge trimmers, pole saws and leaf blowers as they could.
“I was 10 metres away from them and their car as they sped off shouting at me through the window.”
Having immediately called the police, he was informed officers were not able to pursue the thieves as they had already left the scene.
Officers have launched an investigation, and Mr Rickman believed members of the public have provided them with details after seeing an appeal and CCTV images on Westbeams’ Facebook page.
But, despite this, he was not satisfied with the manner in which the case was being handled.
“Even though the police are investigating, I feel an extreme lack of confidence in them and the powers and availability they have for dealing with this type of crime,” he continued.
“Not only do these crimes have a financially detrimental impact on business owners, but from an emotional point of view it is a real blow.
“It is costly recovering from these crimes, and every time it happens we have to increase our security.”
Following Monday’s raid, further security measures being put in place at the site include extra CCTV and alarms linked to motion and noise detectors. It was the seventh raid there in 15 years.
The latest raid has had a “massive impact”, according to Mr Rickman, with tree works expected to be disrupted over the next few weeks.
He added: “My life and business has been turned upside down and I now have many more things to deal with to get this business back on track for me, my team and my customers.”
Mr Rickman also praised members of the community who had “overwhelmed” him with support. Local businesses had also offered to loan their equipment.
Anyone with information about the break-in should contact Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44210127216, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.