FURIOUS golf bosses have hit out at four thieves who stole £20,000 of equipment before fleeing in a stolen groundsman’s vehicle.
Burglars broke into the greenkeeper’s shed at Houghton Golf Club – which is a registered charity – with a Stihl saw and stole a 4x4 Gator utility vehicle worth £15,000, seven sets of strimmers and leaf blowers, among other items.
Head greenkeeper Wayne Ingledew, who uses the utility buggy every day to get around the golf course and transport other equipment, said: “It’s the society we live in today.
“I’m surprised we’ve got away for so long without any break-ins.
“We use the utility vehicle every day, so it’s a big miss.
“We have had to use the two-wheel drive vehicle we have to get around, but we can’t reach some parts of the golf course on that.”
David Freeman, secretary at the club, said the thieves, who struck about midnight on Saturday, have made life very difficult for volunteers and staff.
He said: “We are disappointed we have lost so much equipment. It just makes it more difficult for the green staff.
“I found out on Sunday morning, about 7am, when the staff came in and saw we’d been broken into. I was furious. I couldn’t believe it.
“Hopefully the insurance will cover it. We run the club with member subscriptions.”
Police are now investigating the theft, and are particularly keen to hear from anyone who may have been offered similar items for sale or know the whereabouts of the stolen goods.
Security cameras at the club captured four men at the club at about 11.45pm on Saturday.
They used the industrial saw to cut the roller shutter on the shed and ransack it.
The entry tripped a silent alarm, but a fault in the system meant the police weren’t alerted. When an alarm did eventually sound, the raiders escaped in the utility vehicle.
Detective Sergeant Les Goodliff said: “We’re carrying out inquiries into the burglary and are keen to hear from anyone who may have any information, or if anyone saw anyone acting suspiciously around the area, either overnight or earlier on Saturday.
“We also want to hear from anyone who may know the whereabouts of the 4x4 Gator utility vehicle or is offered cheap golf clubs and tools for sale.”
Any witnesses should contact Northumbria Police on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 714 260114, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.