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Thieves flee in lorry after raiding eight businesses in one night

By Marion Brennan | South Staffordshire | Crime | Published:

Thieves made off with a lorry load of stolen goods after breaking into up to eight businesses on a large industrial estate.

CCTV footage at the site is believed to have captured the raiders' getaway vehicle

Shocked staff discovered the raid on the Four Ashes Enterprise Centre, off the A449 between Coven and Gailey, when they arrived for work the next morning.

One of the victims, Jim Fletcher, who owns Four Ashes Motor Services, said he was left without vital tools and machinery to carry out simple jobs.

His garage, which has been based on the industrial estate for the past nine years, is still open for business thanks to borrowed equipment and materials brought in from home.

He said: “I felt sick when I saw what had been taken. Basically they took anything that wasn’t physically nailed down.”

WATCH: Business owner lost around £15,000

Eight businesses raided on Wolverhampton industrial estate

He became aware of burglaries on his way into work when he received a call from a driver working at a neighbouring business.

“He told me the door of the unit next to ours was partly open. I called the owner and he said it shouldn’t be because it had been locked up and no-one should have been there.

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“Then as I was pulling up in the car park, I looked across and saw that the electronic key control door on my unit had been forced open and the padlock broken,” said Mr Fletcher, aged 41.

“The amount of equipment stolen has caused a major problem in getting stuff done.

Jim Fletcher at Four Ashes Motor Services

"You come in to do a job and that’s what you find. Even a simple job like changing a bulb or a fuse, without the tools, you can’t do.”

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Mr Fletcher lost between £15,000 – £20,000 of vehicle repair equipment, including welders and other machinery, diagnostic equipment and a long list of tools.

He said other businesses on the 52-acre estate had suffered similar losses.

Getaway

CCTV footage at the site, off Station Drive, is believed to have captured the raiders’ getaway vehicle leaving the industrial estate just after midnight on December 31.

Forensics officers spent several hours investigating the scene and taking prints.

Another shot of the suspected getaway lorry

Staffordshire Police spokeswoman Charlotte Slaney said: “During the morning of the December 31, we were made aware of a number of break-ins at units on Four Ashes Industrial Estate on Station Road.

“Unknown offenders forced entry into the units, and took various items including tools and machinery, sometime between 6pm and midnight on Sunday, December 30.

“It is believed that the offenders made off towards the A5 in a box-style van at around midnight.

Staffordshire Police say inquiries are on-going.

Anyone with information is asked to call the force on the non-emergency number, 101, quoting incident number 156 of December 31.

Details can also be left anonymously with Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Marion Brennan

By Marion Brennan
@Marion_EStar

News and features reporter, specialising in human interest and local history stories.

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