Nov 15 2012 by Rob Pattinson, Ormskirk Advertiser
Thieves make off with Scarisbrick garden centre safe by dragging it across fields in wheelchair
THIEVES stole a safe and carted it off in a wheelchair across two farmers’ fields in an audacious garden centre raid.
Staff discovered the brazen break-in at Vincents Garden Centre when they opened up on Monday morning.
The gang had parked up on fields behind the site, on Southport Road, Scarisbrick, and made they way to the back entrance at some point between 6pm on Sunday and 9am Monday.
After smashing through a rear window with one of the site’s pickaxes, they broke a window to get into the office and then tried to carry the safe off in a plastic wheelbarrow. The raiders abandoned that plan when the wheelbarrow buckled and broke under the weight of the safe, and instead turned to a wheelchair kept on site for visitors to use.
Zoë Bell, who owns the centre with husband Lindsay, told of how staff had been able to follow the wheelchair’s tracks through two farmers’ fields, under a 3ft barbed wire fence and across a ditch to where the thieves’ getaway car, possibly a 4x4, had been parked.
Around £500 cash was in the safe while the gang also got away with £40 in a till taken from the on-site cafe which was found smashed on the fields and an Apple iPod Touch.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Zoë told of how frustrating it was to be targeted by thieves in the run-up to Christmas.
She said: “We’re trying to build this up and make it a family business, something for the future for our three children. They must have known where to get in and out, it’s definitely been planned.
“It’s gutting, all the time and effort we have put in, and someone comes in and takes away all your hard work.
“The girl who opened up is really upset. Someone must have seen something, it’s a busy road even late at night.”
Sgt Paul Bamber from Lancashire Police said: “This appears to have been a specifically targeted burglary. “If anyone saw anything suspicious in the area of Southport Road at that time we would urge them to contact PC 3479 Smith or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”