Thousands of pounds-worth of Christmas trees have been stolen from two garden centres in the south of England.
Raiders used a flatbed lorry to steal 240 Christmas trees from Stewarts Garden Lands in Christchurch, Dorset last week. After forcing their way into the rear compound, the thieves employed a hydraulic hoist to load the stolen goods onto the vehicle.
Police constable Carl Peters of Christchurch police station said: "I believe that several people went into the site and used tools to force the main gate near the Sainsbury's supermarket to allow the flatbed lorry into the compound. Using the hydraulic hoist on their lorry, they loaded up the Christmas trees that were still secured on their wooden delivery pallets before driving out through the same gate."
Garden centre staff have been left "disappointed and disgusted" by the incident, which took place between n6.50pm and 7.05pm on Wednesday November 25.
Meanwhile, a consignment of Nordmann Fir Christmas trees worth more than £12,000 have been stolen from Bourne Valley Garden Centre in Addlestone, Surrey. The incident took place early last week, between 6.15pm on Monday, November 23 and 8.45pm on Tuesday, November 24.
It is believed that thieves used bolt cutters to break through two sets of gates at the rear of the centre, before escaping with more than 200 Christmas trees.
A police investigation is currently underway. Bourne Valley managing director Paul Eldin said that he was devastated by the theft and hopes police track down the culprits.
Detective constable Anne Simpson who is leading the investigation into the Bourne Valley Robbery said: "This was clearly a planned and cynical offence where the suspects have taken a large number of valuable items. Fortunately no one was injured as a result of the incident but Surrey Police will not tolerate offences of this nature, which will have a major impact on the business involved."