A BUSINESS owner has told of his frustration after five break-ins at his premises in as many months.
Michael Boyle, who runs Rocks R Us, on the Thornley Crossings Industrial Estate, in Shotton Colliery, says thieves have targeted his business mainly for copper cable, fuel and car batteries worth a total of £15,000.
He said it almost forced him to close and to cover his losses he has had to lay off a member of staff in recent months.
Mr Boyle says he has got to the point where he has resorted to taking his valuables home at night in a bid to deter the thieves.
The 63-year-old says other companies on the estate, off Salter’s Lane, have also been targets.
But he added that culprits who have been prosecuted in the past have escaped with community service.
Peterlee Police say they are taking positive steps to combat burglaries on the estate and in the past two weeks have began their Business Watch scheme on the site.
Business Watch, which is a network of firms co-ordinated by the police in a bid to cut crime on industrial estates, has already seen a reduction in crime on the North West and North East Industrial Estates in Peterlee.
Mr Boyle, who lives in Consett, said his business, which sells building materials, was last burgled on January 5.
He said: “The last time, they stole three batteries and fuel out of the vehicles.
“They also wrecked one of my big steel containers and pinched every bit of copper cable.
“They took batteries then, as well as tools and chainsaws.
“They take anything that’s lying there, even wheelbarrows.
“We are on the verge of shutting.
“Every day I come in, I think ‘oh God, I hope they haven’t been in’.”
But Mr Boyle, who has boosted security to try to protect his business, said he would not let the thieves win out of “dogged determination to beat them”.
“Why should I be shut down by a pack of thieves?” he added.
Sergeant Steve Hawkes, of Peterlee Police, said there had been several recent arrests following crimes on the estate and officers were particularly targeting known metal thieves.
He added: “We are aware of the problems around the break-ins in that locality and are working in partnership with the business owners.
“It is a priority to us.
“We have upgraded both covert and overt patrols and have worked in partnership to set up a Business Watch.
“We are aiming to mirror the success of the scheme on the North West and Industrial Estates as we have seen a large reduction in crime in that area.”
Any businesses in east Durham wishing to sign up to Business Watch can call community liaison officer Sarah Willis at Durham Police on 0345 6060365.