THE OWNER of the Churchill 4×4 Hanbury Garage has been left counting the cost following a series of thefts and an arson attack at 4.30am yesterday morning which gutted a Range Rover and damaged two others next to it.
It all began in April this year when a restored Land Rover 110 was taken, along with parts from several other vintage Land Rovers.
The vehicle had a tracker fitted and police recovered it on a driveway in West Bromwich.
The case went to court last month but was dropped by the CPS dues a lack of evidence.
In May two Land Rovers were stolen – one was discovered in West Bromwich High Street and the other one was never recovered.
In August a restored Austin Maestro was stolen and not recovered and last month catalytic converters were stolen from two Range Rovers.
Then at 4.30am yesterday morning thieves attempted to steal a Land Rover Defender and caused damage to two other vehicles.
Jonathan Churchill, who owns the garage, said: “The fire brigade put the fire out and fortunately no one was injured which may not have been the case if it hadn’t been such a wet weekend because the neighbour’s hedge was scorched with the flames whilst he was in bed.
“As a small family business we are left with substantial costs to repair damage to vehicles and are unable to continually claim on insurance for fear of sky high premiums and even the potential scenario of being uninsurable.”
He added several other Land Rover specialists in the area had fallen victim to high levels of thefts and vehicle crime with one in particular in Redditch ending up with their premises being burnt to the ground after a spark from a grinder being used to cut off a catalytic converter ignited petrol.
Mr Churchill added more needed to be done to combat the issues.
“Police for rural crime are severely under resourced and the thieves are taking advantage of this situation at a high cost to small businesses.”
Sgt Sarah Kent, from Droitwich Safer Neighbourhood Team, said advice had been issued previously which had been carried out by the business, adding officers were due to go this afternoon to see the owner.
“We will be working with them to see if anything else can be done to improve their security,” she added.
She urged any witnesses or anyone with any information to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
And she said if people saw anything suspicious, they should report it straight away.