Self-employed Dereham man is “devastated” over thefts – and police issue warning over similar crimes

Mervyn Woods started his own business after being made redundant has said he is “devastated” after c

Mervyn Woods started his own business after being made redundant has said he is “devastated” after callous thieves left him £2,000 out of pocket and unable to work. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

A grandfather who started his own business in the back of his car after being made redundant said he is 'devastated' after thieves left him £2,000 out of pocket and almost unable to work.

Mervyn Woods, from Yaxham Road in Dereham, had drills, bespoke blades and a workbench given to him as a birthday present just two weeks ago taken from his van which was parked outside his house.

It is the latest in a spate of thefts from cars and vans in the town during the past month and it has prompted Dereham's police inspector to warn drivers to remove valuables from their vehicles.

Mr Woods, 57, has been running his own garden maintenance company for the past six months after being made redundant from Bernard Matthews last year.

After starting work from the back of his car, Mr Woods grew his business and has started to get regular trade.

But now he has been forced to cancel some of his jobs in the run-up to Christmas because he hasn't got the tools to do them after the theft on Friday night.

'It's a devastating thing to happen to you,' he said. 'For someone to do that to a fellow person, to take away the tools they use to work, they are scum.

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'When I got made redundant last year I thought about what I was going to do. After you get made redundant you lose your self-esteem and it really knocks you.

'So I decided to start my own business. But I can't do it now because I haven't got the tools.

'With just starting my own business off it's not a very good advert. People are expecting things to be done before Christmas and because I couldn't do them they are going elsewhere.

'It makes me feel sick. You hear about people being burgled but you don't think it will happen to you.'

Mr Woods warned others to keep their valuables under lock and key as there have been six thefts from vehicles in Dereham town centre and two more in Lyng.

Inspector Amie Abbs, Dereham's policing commander, said these thefts could be part of the seasonal rise in crime over the Christmas period.

She said the range of items taken ranged from loose change to a sat-nav and garden tools and urged people to move their valuables into a secure place.

Operation Mistletoe, which aims to deter and disrupt shoplifters in Dereham, Swaffham and Watton as well as offer advice and assistance to retailers on how to prevent themselves from becoming a victim of crime, has been launched by the police.

This time of year has historically seen a rise in thefts from shops and police hope that this operation will send out a clear message to criminals, leading to a reduction in offences.

Anyone with information about the theft of Mr Woods's tools should contact PC Lee French on 101.

Police arrested two men and one woman from the Swaffham area on suspicion of theft from a vehicle after an incident on Helsinki Way in Dereham on Saturday night. They have been bailed until January 7.