Thieves used a haulage firm’s excavator to cut out an escape route as they broke into the company’s premises and drove off with a £25,000 digger from Leighton Buzzard.
On the night of Tuesday, February 20, a five ton Kubota mini digger was taken from Billington Road and thought to have been driven off in a flat bed lorry.
The machine belonged to Kane Haulage Ltd of St Albans and had been left at a secure site where it was being used to demolish some old warehouses.
However, when employees arrived at 6.45am the next morning (Wednesday, February 21) they immediately knew something was wrong.
The managing director’s daughter, claims: “We believe whoever did it got on site, started one of the excavators up and pulled a hedge and tree out of the ground!
“This made an entrance and exit for their lorry via Chartmoor Road.
“They knew what they were doing, as all the machines had isolators but they managed to move them; we think they may have been hot wired.
“The lorry didn’t have a tailboard, so it could have been that they had two planks of wood and drove the digger on to it.
“They also tried to take a three and a half ton hydraulic breaker (hammer), which we saw had been moved, but from the CCTV, their lorry looked to be 7.5 tons and would not have been able to carry both the digger and a hydraulic breaker.
“That would have been another £35,000 gone!”
Local businesses’ CCTV captured the lorry arriving at the site at 11.52pm and the family believe two or more men are involved.
The orange digger is a five ton Kubota mini, which is sign written ‘Kane Group’, while the lorry is believed to be 7.5 tons, “possibly a Leyland”. It had a red cab with a black, low-sided tipper body and no tailboard. The daughter added: “We believe the lorry is local. The CCTV was a bit blurry but police are reviewing it in the hope of retaining a number plate.
“My dad, managing director Andrew Kane, started the business up nearly 40 years ago and he’s still working now - he’s 65 this year. We’ve got nearly 100 employees.
“It’s upsetting, as you’re doing your bit to earn an honest living and then things like this happen!”
Police were on site the next day and the business has also got a replacement machine.
The family added: “If anyone sees the lorry and reports it, we would be grateful.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman, said: “We received a report of a digger being stolen from a site in Billington Road, Leighton Buzzard, shortly before midnight on Tuesday (February 20).
“Officers responded to the incident, although were unable to locate the digger, which is thought to have been loaded onto a lorry.
“An investigation is ongoing and anyone with information, or who saw a lorry with a red cab and no tailboard in the area at the time, is urged to come forward.”
PC Tony Bravo, investigating, said: “This has the hallmarks of a pre-planned robbery which has clearly been given a good deal of thought by the offenders.
“We are continuing our enquiries into the incident and we would urge anyone with information or CCTV footage in the vicinity to come forward.”
Information can be reported via Bedfordshire Police’s online reporting centre, or by calling 101, quoting crime number JD/08113/2018.
Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.