A series of thefts across Northamptonshire have cost allotment-holders an estimated £50,000 in lost equipment.
The thefts, including four in Northampton, one in Moulton and one near Kettering, have all taken place over the last few weeks and have involved
broken locks and fences, as well as the theft of electical garden equipment.
More than £10,000 worth of machines were stolen during a recent burglary at allotments in Parklands in Northampton alone.
Mike Potter, chairman of the Parklands Residents’ Association, and owner of an allotment there for 15 years, said: “A quantity of petrol-powered machinery was stolen, including rotovators, strimmers, lawnmowers, general tools and cash, amounting to about £10,000 in value.
“In our case, a segment of picket fence more than two metres high was removed in order to gain entry and three metal containers and a shed
were forced open with heavy-duty bolt cutters.
The 71-year-old grandfather added that other allotments have also suffered damage during recent thefts and said: “It is plain to the victims that an organised gang is responsible.”
Mr Potter said: “This has had a huge impact, especially for older plot-holders who struggle to do the work without that equipment.
“But the police are treating it as low-level and only contacted us after we wrote to complain.
All they said was that there were conducting a “covert operation”.”
Last week, Northampton-shire Police released an appeal for witnesses with information about spate of allotment burglaries in the county.
It reported four incidents in February, including Cop-pice Drive in Parklands between 6pm on Thursday 19.
Thieves target allotments and 3pm on Friday 20, Billing Road overnight between Monday 23 and Tuesday 24, Pleasant Row in Woodford, near
Kettering, between Wednesday 4 and Saturday 14 and another in Boughton Road in Moulton overnight between Tuesday 10 and Wednesday 11.
Officers are also reminding people to be mindful of anyone trying to sell second hand tools or gardening items in unusual circumstances
and to report anything suspicious to police by calling 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.