A DARWEN firm is fighting back after more than £100,000 worth of vital equipment was stolen from their premises.

Bosses at RHP Bearings, in Davyfield Road, were forced to lay off nine temporary members of staff after unique aluminium pattern mouldings were taken from their site in July.

The unusual mouldings, which weigh around three tonnes, were a key part of the company's production process.

And human resources director David Smith warned that if the equipment was not returned, there would have been implications for full-time staff at the end of the extended summer break.

But yesterday Mr Smith said the firm had secured replacement mouldings and, following the annual holiday, things were getting back to normal.

He said: "Production operations are returning to normal and our we continue to supply our customers. Although it is not 100 per cent, it is getting better each day."

He added that the majority of the temporary staff who had been laid off had now returned.

Bob Tormay business support manager, added that they were now back on the right road.

Police believe the stolen equipment would be worth around £3,000 if it was sold for scrap, because of its weight and specialist nature.

The patterns were used to make moulds for the manufacture of ball bearings and had the letters RHP stamped on them. They could only be sold as scrap as they would not be able to be used at any other foundry.

A large reward had been offered by the company, which employs 66 full time staff, in return for information about the theft.