Oakedge Shooting Ground in Staffordshire, Dorset Shooting School on the old Southern Counties site, and Westfield Shooting Ground in Gloucestershire were all targeted by thieves in December and January.
In each case the thefts were clearly pre-meditated and professionally executed – and police are no closer to finding those responsible, meaning any clay shooting ground could be at risk.
In the first major break-in on the weekend of 12-13 December 2015, eight Promatic traps were taken from Oakedge. Thieves cut through barbed wire and took traps in a part of the ground not regularly seen by members of the public, laying the clays on the ground before they lifted the traps. Ground owner Peter Till said: “Whoever did it planned it very well. They took all the batteries and buttons.”
At Dorset on the night of 7 January, eight Promatic traps and one Laporte machine were taken, along with cables and five buttons for the Claymate system. Ground owner Kevin Newton said: “In 40-odd years I’ve known the odd trap or button to be taken, but this was stolen to order.”
And on the night of 20 January, four Promatic traps were taken from Westfield, and the roller shutter door of the on-site storage unit was ripped off to steal a trailer and a brand new quad bike. A vehicle had been used to pull the shutter door off its frame. Allison Lovatt said: “They knew where they were going and when they were coming. Whoever did it knew the site.”
Ground owners are urged to be vigilant and to increase their security efforts on their premises. Anyone spotting suspicious behaviour should call their local police force on 101.
The crime prevention officer for Warwickshire and West Mercia, Ian King, said: “Most of the time, victims in situations like this have a good chance of becoming secondary victims. These ground owners should try updating their security and bolting down any machines left out overnight. Any property should also be marked with Smart Water and stamped more visibly with permanent marker.
“On open days, be vigilant of uninvited visitors and take down number plates of anyone that enters, so if there are any you don’t recognise or that come up on CCTV, that will help.”