A family is offering a cash reward after a trio were filmed raiding a van – on the same night as a spate of similar thefts in south Bristol and North Somerset.
Samantha Boyce said the masked thieves stole around £2,000 worth of tools from her partner Luke’s Vauxhall Vivaro at around 10.36pm on Saturday (May 16).
Ms Boyce, 32, said a cash reward is on offer to anyone who provides information which leads to the thieves being brought to justice. An amount has not yet been specified.
Ms Boyce said: “It’s quite shocking they would go for something so out in the open, walking onto our drive at that time of night.
“We’ve got a baby daughter who was crying, which is why we didn’t hear anything.
“On the CCTV, they look so confident coming onto the drive – it makes you think they were watching the house for a few days.
“When people are walking around, you think they are just walkers, but something like this makes you worry.”
The camera caught the BMW going past Ms Boyce’s home around 10 minutes before the break-in.
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She said: “They drove as if to go on the A370 towards Bristol, but they reversed back and went past the house again – 10 minutes later they broke in.
“It was like they just didn’t think they were going to get caught. They cut the metal near the lock and used some kind of sensor to stop the lights flashing when the van opened.
“It took them about 46 seconds to get in and then they were in and out within two minutes.
“They took all the cordless tools in a holdall and left all the corded ones.”
The tools, which include a circular saw and Hilti impact guns, belong to the company which employs Ms Boyce’s partner Luke.
She said: “Luke works for a company that can replace the tools, but some people are self-employed and can’t work if their tools get stolen. It’s already tough for people because of coronavirus.
“Hopefully someone recognises the thieves. A couple of them look like they are a funny shape. If they were my friends, I would definitely know who they were.”
The other break-ins
An Avon and Somerset police spokeswoman revealed the force is investigating a spate of break-ins from the same night.
She said: “Witnesses reported that three men made off in a dark-coloured BMW when disturbed near vans in three incidents on Saturday night.
“The first happened at about 10.13pm in Aspen Park, Weston-super-Mare. Officers attended and found that three Vauxhall Vivaro vans in the street had been tampered with. Two were damaged but nothing had been stolen.
“In Wrington Lane, Congresbury, [the Boyce family’s van] was broken into and tools were stolen.
“The theft was reported on Sunday afternoon but CCTV shows the incident, involving three men and a similar car, happened at 10.36pm on Saturday night.”
Just before 11pm, officers were called to Chescombe Road, Yatton. A Peugeot van was damaged but had nothing stolen.
“At 11.30pm, a Vauxhall Vivaro parked in Westward Road, Bishopsworth, was damaged in an attempt to break into it,” the force spokeswoman continued.
“Again a witness called officers after seeing three men interfering with the vehicle.
“Officers responded to each report on Saturday night. The area was searched for the suspect vehicle with no trace.
“House-to-house enquiries have been carried out and an alert issued through Neighbourhood Watch.”
Police are also investigating an overnight tool theft from a Nissan van in Cleeve’s Main Road, reported on Monday morning – but they say there is no evidence to link that incident to the other crimes.
What was stolen?
The tools stolen from the Boyce family’s van include:
- Four Hilti batteries
- Two Hilti impact guns
- Various cordless Makita tools
- One Makita Impact Gun
- Circular saw.
Neighbourhood Sergeant Mark Raby said: “These witnesses did exactly the right thing by calling us immediately to report this suspicious behaviour.
“We understand the significant impact of this sort of crime on tradespeople’s livelihoods.
“We know it’s not always possible to empty a work van overnight, but we’d recommend it if you can.”
How to make your vehicle safer
Police have given the following vehicle safety advice:
- permanently mark tools with your business name or postcode
- keep a record of the serial numbers
- keep tools inside a secure storage cage or box anchored within the vehicle
- set the alarm as well as locking the van whenever you leave it
- park it in a secure garage, or with the doors against a wall or another vehicle, to make access more difficult
- fit secondary locks
- use a tracking device.
“Don’t help to create a market for stolen goods – officers would also like to hear from you if you see tools offered for sale, online or in person, at a suspiciously cheap price,” the force spokeswoman said.
If you have information, you can contact police via www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/contact or by calling 101, quoting reference 5220106973.
If you don’t want to speak to the police, you can pass on information through the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
They never ask your name or trace your call.