A DEVASTATED gardener faces losing his livelihood after raiders plundered his storage unit – stealing £65,000 worth of tools in two separate attacks.
Gavin Bassford started a family business – The Oakland Group – with his brother Craig and sister Jodie ten years ago.
But on one fateful day he turned up to work, two weeks before Christmas, to find all of his equipment for his ground maintenance and tree surgery business had been stolen in the night.
Gavin said his insurance paid a small amount back but it was no where near enough to cover the loss which not only affected his livelihood but those of his eight employees and their families.
He managed to scrape enough money together to replace some of the tools to keep his business going.
But a week ago the thieves returned and stole that equipment too, worth £10,000, from the Catherine-de-Barnes storage unit. In total the best part of 200 items were stolen.
Gavin said he did not want to claim a second time because he did not want to risk being denied insurance when it needed renewing.
Among the items taken were ten chainsaws, eight or nine hedge cutters, seven backpack blowers, climbing equipment, ropes and six lawn mowers. They also took some drills, jet washers and specialist breaking equipment.
All of the equipment is unique and has a cartoon character’s name on it like Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny and Tweety Pie. They are also all engraved with serial numbers.
Gavin said whoever was going to be selling the equipment would have to scratch out all the model names and numbers which would make them very hard to sell.
He added some of the tools had been passed down from his grandad, through his father, so had more sentimental value.
“They left me with pretty much nothing just before Christmas,” Gavin said.
“It makes me wonder if we can carry on – I could face losing the company.
“It was an absolute devastation and it is just a massive blow to the business when we have worked so hard for the best part of a decade.
“We are potentially looking to close the business down.
“Somebody somewhere knows something about where these tools are.
“It is a serious amount that has gone missing.”
Gavin said the thieves had dragged the tools across a field before they had cut a hole in a hedge and a fence and dragged them into a van.
“We want to draw light on this to catch these people who have stolen our tools and taken away our livelihoods and ruined our ten years of credibility which we have built up in the Solihull area,” he said.
Anyone who knows what has happened to the tools and wants to help save Gavin’s business should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.