Anger as thieves steal £5,000 of tools from Bythams Woodland Trust

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The chairman of a community trust has condemned “callous” thieves who stole thousands of pounds worth of tools.

Volunteers for the Bythams Woodland Trust turned up to The Spinney in Little Bytham to do their regular maintenance work on January 23. But when they arrived, they found the door of their steel storage container had been ripped open, and several expensive pieces of equipment had been stolen.

Trust chairman Dr Patrick Candler said the thieves took hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, strimmers and even a half-tonne wood chipper, which together were worth about £5,000.

“It’s very depressing and frustrating,” he said. “It’s everything we need to use to keep The Spinney going.

“We are doing a lot of good work for the community for people to come out and enjoy themselves. It’s very unhelpful when people go and steal our equipment.”

The impact is particularly harsh on the trust’s members and volunteers.

“We raised all the money ourselves through various grants over the last 12 years,” said Dr Candler. “We’ve probably put more than £200,000 worth of investment into the site, and thousands of hours of voluntary labour.

“We are very upset.”

Dr Candler believes the theft had been carefully planned. The container had locks on the doors and a strong metal bar as an extra security measure, and the wood chipper would not have been easy to move.

“It’s not something you could have put in the back of your car,” he said. “I’ve no idea who they are but we guess there must have been two or three of them.”

Thankfully all the items were security marked, so if they are found, police will be able to identify them. They were insured, but the trust will have to postpone some of its planned work until new equipment can be found.

Dr Candler said: “It’s just the fact that callous people have gone and stolen equipment from a charity that’s trying to do good work for the community. It’s like a violation.

“We have had fantastic support from the community who have offered tools. Someone said they would hold a benefit gig. I would just ask people to keep their eyes open and if they see anything, let us know.”