THIEVES made off with a £17,000 road roller from a building site.

Police believe organised criminals took the yellow 2.5-ton vehicle, which has a top speed of 10mph.

The Vibromax road roller is owned by Plant Hire UK and had been hired by Westbourne Civil Engineering, based in Manchester.

Insp John Fryer, from Rossendale police, said the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for.

He said: “The people who stole it will have had to use a lorry and equipment to steal it because it is so heavy.

“It will have been an organised and planned operation. The roller has probably already been shipped abroad.

“It is much harder to trace items that have crossed the border.

“It’s clearly been stolen by somebody with a good knowledge of the trade who already knew where they would send it to.

“There is a real market for these vehicles in Europe and this one is only a year old and a very expensive model.

“They will know that they will get a good price for it over there."

The vehicle was taken from the housing site in Edward Street, Whitworth, sometime between Monday night and Tuesday morning.

Anyone with information can contact police on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.