Cricket club raid sees £13k of equipment stolen

Thieves using high powered machinery broke in to a cricket club's storage unit, taking £13,000 of ground maintenance equipment - one of three incidents of criminals targeting sports clubs in the area.

Oldswinford and Stourbridge Social Cricket Club was victim of a 'professional and clearly planned job', say club bosses.

The thieves used high powered machinery to take off locks to the storage units to one of the club's bases, in Norwood Road in Brierley Hill.

Once inside the shed, close to nearby homes backing on to the cricket field, the criminals took three grass mowers, three trimmers and a hover mower.

The total cost of the haul is estimated to be £13,000.

The theft, discovered on Friday afternoon, is the latest targeting of a cricket club.

Three weeks ago, a storage unit at Swindon Cricket Club's ground in Hinksford Lane, Swindon, was broken into, but nothing was taken. And another club, which asked not to be named, was also recently targeted, with equipment being stolen.

Paul Hatton, vice-chairman at Oldswinford and Stourbridge Social Cricket Club, which also has a ground in Stourbridge, said: "We have had graffiti in the past, things going missing. But this was something else, it was a professional and clearly planned job."

He said the theft was discovered by the groundsman when he went to use the equipment on Friday, and discovered the locks had been broken.

The club, which has four adults teams and six youth teams, is now to use equipment from its other ground, while depending on Dudley Council to cuts its grass.

He said: "They got in using highly powered machinery, and then managed to move out the equipment and take it away. It is strange no-one heard it, it was just 30ft from houses, we don't know when exactly it happened."

The club, he said, will now have to consider bringing in CCTV to protect the club, adding more expense.

He added: "We are feeling a bit depleted. Why someone things they can just come in and take our equipment we depend on is beyond us."

David Darlaston, chairman of Swindon Cricket Club, said "We were victim of an attempted burglary about three weeks ago. They opened up the unit, but don't think they took anything."

He added: "Sports clubs survive on the generosity of members, so to lose pieces of equipment, it causes upset, not just for that club, but others."

A West Midlands Police spokesman said: "We were called to reports of a burglary at the Cricket Ground, Norwood Road, Brierley Hill, which is believed to have happened sometime between 10pm on 10 May and 2.30pm on 12 May.

"Garden equipment was stolen from a storage unit. Anyone with information can call 101 quoting crime reference number 20DY/99157M/17."

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