A DISTRAUGHT Southwick farmer says it will take a year for his business to recover from a ‘suspicious’ heist where more than £10,000 in tools were stolen.

Desmond Beatty, of Brokerswood Road, woke up to find his £4,000 generator had been stolen, along with a £2,500 plant trailer, a £2,000 power washer and nearly £3,000 in various power tools from a garage.

What’s more, the thieves entered the compound where there are no cameras, broke into the 48-year-old eight tonne Ford tractor, reversed it so they could open the gates and then made off with the goods overnight on January 15 and 16.

Mr Beatty, who runs Brokerswood Farm shop with his son Jack and his wife Jackie, says the heist has put a huge strain on the business, something that will take some time to recover from.

Since November, police have reported on seven instances, in Trowbridge, Bradford on Avon, Melksham and Hilperton, such as these where more than £1,000 worth of tools have been stolen from properties or vans along with many more smaller tool thefts.

“It is really hard to take for me and my family to take – it has been a real hammer blow,” he said.

“We run a steady business as well as running a beef farm with 150 animals. The farm shop has only been open a year so to get hit with this is very hard to take.

“This all seems very suspicious as the people who did it knew that one part of the compound did not have any cameras, they managed to get into the tractor and reverse it so they could open the gates.

“Also, our Celtic border collie, Diesel, was chained up and when he sees people he makes a lot of noise and only when you untie him, does he stop barking.

“When I saw what had been stolen, Diesel had been set free too so that we wouldn’t get woken up.

“They then prized upon the garage door and took all the tools within. This will set us back a year or so which is infuriating.”

Wiltshire Police community co-ordinator, PC Lee Pelling, said that despite the vast amounts of tool thefts reported in recent months, there had not been a rise in this sort of crime.

“There has been a spate of rural tool thefts where high value machinery and equipment have been stolen in the West Wiltshire area,” he said.

“It is not uncommon for thieves to visit the site before they rob it. It is crucial that people are vigilant, that they lock their doors and if possible, take their tools into their homes, instead of leaving them in work vans.”

If anyone has information on this, call police on 101.