A WOKINGHAM couple say they have had their livelihood stripped away after their tree surgery business was ransacked last week.
During the night of Thursday, February 20, Oakland Tree Services was targeted by thieves, who broke through two main gates, two shipping containers and a van to steal equipment.
“My husband and I have worked our a**** off to build this company, and the scabs took it all in one night,” said Rachel Cole.
“They took everything we have bought over the last five years; chainsaws of all different sizes makes and models, hedge cutters, pole pruners, blowers, a stump grinder, all of the climbing harnesses and ropes, safety and rigging equipment.
“The scumbags even took the boy’s chainsaw trousers, boots and helmets.
“Why would anyone else want a man’s sweaty personal protective equipment, but I suppose they will take anything if it means they can make a fiver off it.”
During the robbery, thieves overturned three CCTV cameras and cut the wire on the fourth. The main CCTV box was stolen as well as the Wifi box.
Mrs Cole explained how the immediate effect of the robbery has put the couple in a vulnerable financial position.
“We have had to push work back because we haven’t got the tools to do anything,” added Mrs Cole.
“We rent and can barely pay ourselves this month, because we need to keep money in the business. Plus we have five boys wages to pay.”
The raid of Oakland Tree Services was not a stand-alone event, and many other machinery-lead businesses have been targeted by thieves over the past year.
Thames Valley Police warned about how businesses can protect themselves from future incidents:
- Keep the business exterior well-maintained and free of rubbish and graffiti
- Identify and secure areas that may be vulnerable to forced entry
- Lock service doors when not in use
- Have a fully operational monitored alarm
- Have fully operational CCTV covering all vulnerable areas. It should have facial recognition and good quality images
- Store wheelie bins away as these can be climbed on to gain building access
- Have sufficient lighting around the premises, especially loading areas
- Consider moving high-value goods away from display windows overnight
- Prune overgrown bushes and trees, as they can cover anyone hiding from view
- Try not to keep cash on the premises and use a bolted-down safe with a time lock and anti-tamper sensors that trigger an alarm
- Lock stockrooms and, where possible, keep stock out of sight
- Make sure keys are not left on the premises and that only designated staff have access