POLICE are hunting a gang who stole Christmas trees worth more than £5,000 – amid fears that it could be the start of a seasonal crimewave. Garden centres are being put on alert after thieves targeted two premises, escaping with almost 150 trees.
Police believe that the same gang is behind the thefts of 100 trees, worth £4,000, at a nursery in Titchfield and another in Wickham, where a further 49 trees were taken, valued at £1,800. Now they are warning other garden centres to be on their guard.
The gang of four broke into the Silver Springs Nursery and Garden Centre in Fontley Road, Titchfield, by cutting a fence.
They wrapped some of the spruces in netting before escaping in what officers believe were multiple vehicles.
During the raid the thieves also damaged three vehicles and took a trailer valued at £1,000 and a CR85 Honda motocross bike worth £1,000.
Officers are appealing for information about the incident, which happened between 3.50am and 4.50am on Tuesday.
The same night the gang then got into the car park of nearby Park Place Farm Nursery, in Titchfield Lane, by cutting the padlock before taking 49 trees.
Investigating officer PC Sarah Hall said that the trees would probably be sold in lay-bys or fields.
Call PC Hall on 101, or for those out of the area, call 0845 045 4545
(Reproduced from Southern Daily Echo, 1st Dec)
Gardien Comment: Christmas trees are just one of the targets at this time of year. Presents can often be stored in sheds or garages away from children's prying eyes so check out the security - the temptation to some is too great. See the advice at http://www.garden-security.co.uk/shed-security-print.htm