Burnley charity volunteers outraged as thieves strike for the second time (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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Burnley charity volunteers outraged as thieves strike for the second time
VOLUNTEERS at a disabled people's charity in Burnley have been left 'devastated' after thieves struck for a second time in two months.
Raiders targeted Fresh Fields Enterprises which is a horticultural charity working with adults with learning difficulties and special needs.
Centre manager Gail Harvey-Clapham said it appeared the thieves were ‘determined to put us out of business’.
In August, £2,000 of gardening tools were taken from the group's base in Cemetery Lane, including petrol strimmers, two petrol blowers and a pole hedge-cutter.
And when volunteers turned up yesterday morning, they were shocked to discover the £1,500 trailer they use to do gardening jobs had been taken.
Gail said: “I’m at a loss as to what to do.
“I only came in on Monday because the trailer needs repair work on an electrical fault to do with the plug that connects it to cars, so I was going to take it to the garage.
“I couldn’t believe it when I noticed it had been taken. I’m devastated."
CCTV footage shows two men in hoodies break through a gate at around 2.15am on Sunday morning.
The pair used bolt-cutters to snap off a padlock, before snooping around the compound with their faces covered.
They went to the back of the building and approached the trailer, again using the bolt-cutters to remove locks and chains.
After waiting for around an hour, a small, light-coloured, two-door hatchback came to collect them and drive off with the trailer attached.
It leaves the charity and its gardeners unable to complete any jobs they had lined up.
They were already depending on using on-loan equipment donated by local people in the wake of the theft in August.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle, who buys plants from the charity, said the theft was ‘tragic’.
He said: “They do a lot of fantastic work in the community. I visited them several times in my mayoral year and I still buy my plants from them in the summer.
“It is tragic that somebody would do this. It is absolutely appalling to think that there are people out there who will steal from charities and good causes, especially one that does so much for people with mental health problems.
“I hope the police catch them and throw them in the cells. Something like this needs a severe punishment and I hope the courts dish out some summary justice.”
The thieves returned later on to take a cage panel, which fits along the front of the trailer.
Gail said: “These people are clearly determined to put us out of business.
“Some people clearly have no morals. We’re a charity for disabled people for goodness’ sake. They’re soulless.
“It’s an absolute insurance nightmare, we’re still trying to recover from the last incident.”
The trailer is a large, aluminium, Ifor Williams model, registration number PK02 0UE, and has wires coming out of the left indicator.
Police confirmed they are investigating the incident and anyone with information should call 101.
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