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Workman watches helplessly as tools stolen from van at Stafford retail park

By Charlotte Callear | Stafford | Crime | Published:

A 'devastated' self-employed Stafford man watched helplessly as up to £8,000 of tools were stolen from the back of his van in broad daylight.

Richard Weals pictured with his van after thieves broke in and stole his tools

Richard Weals, was leaving B&M at Kingsmead Retail Park in Stafford when he saw men had broken into his van and were stealing his power tools shortly before midday on Wednesday.

The father-of-four rushed to his van but the thieves made off with his tools which will cost him thousands of pounds to replace and he said he does not feel safe any more as a result.

"I came out of B&M and I looked over to my van but I could see my back door was open then I noticed someone was inside it," said Mr Weals.

"I was shocked. I ran over and shouted but they sped off.

Richard Weals with his van

"It happened in broad daylight and they had the nerve to drill a hole in the back of a van so it now has a hole in it.

"It was a violation of my stuff and my livelihood. I was devastated. My phone was shaking in my hand.

"You never think this would happen to you and I do not want this to happen to anyone else.

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'Let down'

"I called 999 but they said it was not an emergency so I called 101 and waited for 40minutes just to request a call back. I feel let down by them. I am meeting them for the first time on Friday."

The 43-year-old home renovations expert from Stafford has needed to cancel some jobs because he did not have the tools to do them.

Mr Weals lives with his partner, Debbie Stone, aged 39, and daughters Molly, aged 13, Madison, 10, Ava, seven, and step-daughter Emily, 15, but said he no longer feels safe.

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Richard Weals with his van

A fundraising campaign has since been started and has raised over £380.

Mr Weals added: "It has scarred me because now I am thinking do I need to pay to secure my van, house and garage better. I have kids and I want them to be safe.

"I had to cancel some jobs because of it and have had to lend tools just to keep working.

"The community has really stuck together and started up a fundraising page. Everyone has been very supportive, even people I do not know."

Police chief apologises

Staffordshire Assistant Chief Constable Nick Adderley said: “We appreciate Mr Weals’ frustration and apologise for the way in which his initial call was handled.

“An investigation is under way, including reviewing CCTV footage, and we are doing everything we can to apprehend the offender.

“The response to this incident fell below our usual high standards of service and again we apologise to Mr Weals for the undue stress and disappointment this has caused.”

Donations can be made to support Mr Weals at gofundme.com/fund-replacement-tools-for-rich

Charlotte Callear

By Charlotte Callear
@CCallear_Star

Reporter based at the Express & Star's Wolverhampton head office

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