A vulnerable 85-year-old man from Great Harwood has been left devastated after thieves ram-raided his allotment and stole a life-long collection of tools on Wednesday night.

Barry Dean, described as well-known and respected in the town, was left in tears after discovering the break-in on Thursday morning – and his family are warning of a recent spike in the number of break-ins in the area.

Penny Hickey, his granddaughter, told the Lancashire Telegraph: “We didn't find out what had happened until the morning after when my grandad got up and went down to his allotment.

"He saw all the damage and how a vehicle had ram-raided through the steel gates, broke all the locks on the metal unit and took absolutely everything.

"He is absolutely devastated and for a grown man at 85 - a 'man's man' - to sob and cry is just heartbreaking."

Mr Dean has owned the allotment on Barons Way for many years, described by the family as his "little haven" where he spends time relaxing and socialising.

He found a glove at the scene which he thinks might belong to the perpetrator and handed it over to police officers to investigate.

The family believe the break-in may have been pre-planned and that he was targeted specifically.

Ms Hickey added: "Whoever's driving pass, it's been pre-planned and we think he's been targeted.

"He said to me 'Why me, especially when your grandma's dying? I just don't need this' and he's just really distraught."

After posting about the crime on Facebook, Ms Hickey said people in the community came forward to offered to help repair the gate to the allotment.

She said she wants people to be aware of the break-in and be vigilant in the area.

Ms Hickey added the community was concerned after a recent spike number of thefts at pens and allotments in Great Harwood.

A Lancashire Police spokesperson said the incident is being looked into but they had not identified any suspects or carried out any arrests so far.

Sgt Nigel Hindle added: "A van has possibly been sighted in the area but nothing specifically to link any vehicle to the offence.

"Reassurance visits have been conducted by the neighbourhood policing team and patrols have been stepped up in the area."

The force has asked anybody with information to call 101 and quote log LC-290200715-0382.