BRAZEN thieves made off with two generators worth £35,000 and weighing four and a half tonnes by towing them away after a raid on a town business.
Modern Trades Academy, which helps get young people off the dole queue and into work, was targeted by thieves over the weekend.
The firm, which has helped more than 1,000 people into work the construction industry since setting up three years ago, also had £1,000-worth of computer equipment taken in the raid.
Today company boss Dean Dobson, who employs nine members of staff and offers construction industry qualifications for people of all ages, said he was devastated at the crime.
The 29-year-old, who was hoping to expand his company to start apprenticeships for young people in the town, said: “We are a small company and we’ve just got ourselves on our feet after struggling for a while and we are now lumbered with this.
“It’s bad. It’s ridiculous.”
He added: “All the staff work really hard and we are offering a service to the town to get people trained, off the dole and into the construction industry.”
Dean said he had hired one three-tonne generator, worth £25,000, from a hire firm, while the company saved up £10,000 to buy its own.
The new one-and-a-half tonne generator – which
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would have been used to heat, light and power the premises – was only delivered and fitted on Friday morning last week, and secured behind a cabin by fencing.
The borrowed generator was due to be collected by the hire company.
Dean went to the site at 11.30am on Sunday morning to find a bolt on the entrance gate bent, some temporary fencing and a portable toilet moved, and some concrete posts and wooden fencing smashed to the ground.
The two generators, which were mounted onto trailers, had been wheeled away and were nowhere to be seen and a cabin had been ransacked with four Dell computers stolen.
Dean, who lives in Sheraton, said: “My opinion is that somebody’s driven past and seen the big hire generator and have come back, broken in and then realised there was a second one.
“I think they’ve been towed away because it would take some brute force to lift them onto the back of a truck. They’d have needed a winch of some sort.
“We’ve had to close while the police carry out their investigations, for the insurance investigators to come out and for a new generator to be fitted.
“We’ve got people due to sit tests as well, but hopefully we’ll get opened this week definitely.
“But it does make you think twice about whether it’s worth it.”
The company – which prepares potential employees for careers in plastering, bricklaying, plant operation, and supervision and site manager roles – is offering a £1,000 reward for anyone who can provide information leading to the whereabouts of the equipment.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said: “Police are appealing for information following the burglary which happened between Friday, April 12, and Sunday, April 14.
“The two generators are described as being a white Pramac 17KVA generator on a silver single axel trailer and a Stephil 30KVA generator on a silver twin axel trailer.”
Anyone who can help with the inquiry should contact Detective Constable Christopher Bryan, of Hartlepool CID, on the non-emergency 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.