THIEVES have stolen hundreds of pounds of power tools and gardening equipment from a social enterprise for people with learning difficulties near Iron Acton.
Organic Blooms, in Latteridge, has lost more than £700 of expensive electrical tools during an overnight raid which saw thieves bend steel doors to get in.
The nursery employs local people with disabilities and vulnerable adults to help grow seasonal British cut flowers and herbs and holds numerous open days for the public.
Joanna Wright, who runs Organic Blooms, said everyone was ‘devastated’ by the break-in.
“All of our power tools were taken including strimmers and drills, about £700 worth in total,” she said.
“They broke into our lock ups which even the police said we had done a good job of securing with steel doors. But they managed to get behind the doors and bend them back and they have caused a lot of damage.
“It is really sad as we all work so hard to fundraise for that equipment and we can’t afford to just go out and replace it. We will have to wait until the end of the season now.”
She said trainees working at the nursery had been left upset by the burglary, which happened sometime overnight between Thursday, June 19 and Friday, June 20.
“Our trainees feel quite vulnerable,” said Mrs Wright. “They are vulnerable anyway but they felt this was their safe place and they come here because they have been victims all of their lives.
“It is sad for them and it restricts our work because we don’t have the tools to do it.”
The latest theft is not the first time the nursery has been targeted as it was broken into four times at its previous home, the Frome Valley Garden Centre in Frampton Cotterell.
“We moved here four seasons ago partly because of the burglaries and we have been quite lucky as we are quite remote,” added Mrs Wright. “But we always thought it was only a matter of time and that is a sad fact of life.
“At least they didn’t take our £5 kettle this time like they have done in the past.”
She said Organic Blooms would continue ‘onwards and upwards’ with its planned work this season and went ahead with an open day in aid of the National Gardens’ Scheme on Sunday (July 6).
The nursery is hoping some of the stolen equipment will be replaced through its insurance policy.
Police were called and forensic officers identified several fingerprints and footprints at the scene but no arrests have yet been made.
Neighbourhood PC Finbar Simmons said: “I would ask anyone with any information which could help our enquiries into this incident to get in touch.
"We’re especially keen to hear from anyone who may have details of any unfamiliar vehicles in the area that night.
"You can contact us through our website or by calling 101 and quoting reference 61788/14. Alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."