ALLOTMENT holders believe professional thieves are behind a spate of thefts in Burnley.

Over the weekend, allotments on Woodgrove Road were targeted, with at least three sheds broken into.

Allotment holders in Heasandford have also suffered thieves in recent days and weeks.

The owners believe organised thieves may be responsible for the attacks, due to the sophisticated nature of the burglaries.

Trinity councillor Tony Martin, who was among the victims said: “This isn’t the first time this has happened and it is very frustrating.

“The door to my shed was removed from its hinges and tools taken.

“My friend, who has a plot a few down, has had his shed lock cut with bolt cutters, so it isn’t kids who are doing this.

“I have reported the incident to the police and would encourage other victims to do the same so they and the council are aware of the true scale of the problem.

“I understand there have been similar incidents at Heasandford and urge allotment holders not to leave anything valuable around for thieves to take.”

Police have increased patrols and have dropped leafleted neighbouring houses to raise awareness.

Last summer, a similar spate of burglaries occurred in Read, when several allotments rented out to Read and Simonstone residents were burgled.

Detective Inspector Vincenzo DeCurtis from Lancashire Police said: “They have quite clearly been targeting people down there on the allotment.

“With spring coming and the nights getting lighter, people will be putting more things into allotments.

“Different crimes happen at different times of year.

“It costs people money to replace these goods and causes inconvenience.

“People take pride and pleasure in getting their allotments right, to go there and relax.

“We advise people not to leave things there if they don’t have to, and to use door alarms and other crime prevention methods.

“I will be speaking to the neighbourhood teams, and we will raise visibility round there to try and deter them.”

A Burnley Council spokesman said: “We advise allotment holders to be vigilant and report any suspicious behaviour to the police.

“Any other precautions are simple common sense, such as making sure tools and anything valuable are either taken off-site or locked away out of sight.

“Any incidents should be reported to the police, and the council if they are on council-owned sites.”