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Thieves steal ride-on mowers and cut their way through Shropshire fields

By Thomas Morton | Shrewsbury | Crime | Published:

It looked like a bungled burglary when thieves stole two ride-on lawnmowers worth £10,000 and proceeded to drive them through a garden and four fields before dumping them.

The damage left by the lawnmower thieves after breaking in at Oakley’s

But now bosses at Oakley’s Groundcare, where the mowers were taken from, think the thieves did not take a wrong turn and get stuck but rather planned it that way – as when the owners went back to collect the machines from where they had been found, they had vanished.

The break-in at the garden machinery centre at Leasowes Business Park, off the A458 near Cound, happened in the early hours of Wednesday, and at first appeared comical, said Ross Bland, of the Bland family that owns Oakley’s.

The trail left by the lawnmower thieves after breaking in at Oakley's Groundcare

He said: “Wednesday morning the guys all turned up at Oakley’s Groundcare and found two mowers gone and a big hole in the fence.

“But instead of heading up the lane which less than a mile to the road, they seem to have gone off in the wrong direction.

"They headed into my dad’s garden, cut through another fence and headed across another field. He said in total they cut through four fences and mowed a swathe through several fields before apparently getting disheartened or stuck."

Mr Bland continued: “Eventually they managed drive the two mowers down a steep bank in a thick wood near Cressage.”

He said his father Robert and staff followed the track but the trail went cold and it was Thursday evening before a neighbouring farmer discovered the machines - a Kubota G23 and Kubota GR2120 worth about £5,000 each.

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A Kubota GR23 of the type stolen from Oakley's Groundcare

“It was silly on our behalf not to collect them immediately,” Mr Bland said.

Ray George, managing director of Oakley’s, said the mowers were disabled and it was decided to return for them on Friday morning.

He said that was the wrong decision – as the thieves went back and took them.

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“I don’t think they had got lost at all,” he said.

“We pulled the route up on Google maps and I think it was always their intention to make their way back to the A458 that way.

"They purposely left the machines hidden in the woods for a couple of days, which is something they do to make sure the machines haven’t got trackers on them, and then came back to collect them.”

He said the thieves knew what they were doing as they had managed to stay just out of sight of the CCTV cameras and cut incredibly neat holes in hedges and fences and even removed a small tree to get in and out again.

Anyone who has any information, or comes across such machines being offered for sale from a suspicious source, should get in touch with Oakley’s and the police on 101.

Thomas Morton

By Thomas Morton
@tmorton_star

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star

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