A JOINER said he had been left devastated after £4,000 of tools were stolen from his van during his lunch break.
Self-employed Richard Grimshaw, from Brierfield, was working in Chorley when thieves struck after he popped into a B&Q store for just five minutes.
Mr Grimshaw, 33, said they had ‘taken everything’ he used for his work.
Among the stolen items were drills, saws, a toolbox, a digital radio and other equipment passed down from his grandfather.
He had locked his van after driving it the short distance from the Kimberley Clark site in Buckshaw Village, where he was working, to the store in Highfield Industrial Estate’s North Road.
Mr Grimshaw said the male passenger of another van, a white Citroën Dispatch, parked next to him and followed him in to the store before turning around.
He said: “The van was fully locked. I never leave it until I know it is secure. There was no damage to the vehicle and no sign of forced entry.
“The police have said that criminals are using a new method of cloning keys and fobs and they believe that’s whats happened here.
“It’s a huge setback for me. I’ve had to fork out for all new gear and some of the tools were irreplacable.
“Some of the stuff my grandfather gave me was of great sentimental value, it can’t even be bought anymore.
“I’ve been working for 17 years and never encountered anything like this.
“Speaking to other people in the trade though, it appears to be becoming more common.”
Mr Grimshaw said he was insured but would be left out of pocket once he had paid the excess on his policy.
Police have told him they traced the other van’s registration to an address in Scotland, but believed it was using false number plates.
Mr Grimshaw is now urging fellow van owners to install a secure ‘van vault’ to lock up items in work vehicles.
Lancashire Police said it was continuing to investigate the incident and that its target team would be meeting with Mr Grimshaw again to examine evidence left behind in his van.