A BUSINESSMAN is appealing for help after his two works vans and tools were stolen from a recently developed eco-centre site run by volunteers.

The owner, who has asked not to be named, said his vehicles, a white Ford Transit Connect and a silver Ford Transit Custom, both 2016-registration, were taken from storage at the Teesdale Conservation Volunteers centre, at Deepdale, Startforth, near Barnard Castle, late on Wednesday night.

He said after speaking to neighbours on Thursday morning he discovered the vans, worth about £10,000 each, were seen being driven from the site between 10 and 11pm, on Wednesday.

“They were locked up and secure. It’s single access and there’s two gates, but they have cut through two padlocks and broke into a shipping container where the site office is, next to the eco-centre building.

“They took my two vans and all the tools, plus some machinery from the site.

“Since it happened we are constantly realising more stuff has gone missing.

“Not only have they taken my vans and tools, but they have taken keys to all the vehicles.

“The site is run by a charity and I’m separate from that, but they have been into the eco-centre as well.

“It’s absolutely soul destroying. We spend all our time down there and people come along and just take everything from us.”

He said the break-in was reported to police who have taken statements and done a scenes of crime examination at the site.

Despite now being officially registered as stolen vehicles, he fears the vans may have already been cloned and may even be out of the country.

But he urged anyone with knowledge of the incident, or the whereabouts of the vans, to inform police.

Appealing on Facebook, he said: “We are looking for any information. Please keep your eyes peeled in your local area or on any buy and sell pages.

“We're absolutely devastated, this is our entire business and livelihood gone. We would appreciate any help or information you can provide.”

The ground-breaking at the eco-centre, a family-run project, only took place a few months ago, having won planning permission to develop the 1.2-acre site.


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