Thousands of pounds’ worth of goods have been stolen from a family-run business in Lynn after burglars smashed their way into the premises.
Staff and police, who were alerted to the burglary at V&J Knitwear at about 1am on Tuesday morning, arrived at the scene to discover a 2ft hole at the back of the property and clothes strewn across a dyke.
Richard Waterfield, who runs the business on the Hardwick Narrows estate with his sister Sharon Coleman, said: “As soon as we saw that we realised we had been done.”
Mr Waterfield said an estimated £5,000 worth of stock has been damaged or stolen.
When the alarms first went off, he said he thought something had just fallen off of a shelf, but then he saw a white van driving away from the scene on his way there.
“As I came down here, a white van with a roller shutter door flew off the estate, it almost lost it,” he said.
The intruders took a large number of tweed Greenbelt- and Bonart-branded shooting jackets as well as hi-vis jackets, some of which are worth about £100 each.
Mr Waterfield said: “We do embroidery and workwear here, but they didn’t take any logoed stuff, as it would be hard to sell.”
He said they believe it’s a local gang of people, as they seemed to know what they were looking for.
“It’s somebody who’s done a bit of research, we think they are local rather than opportunists. But it’s gobsmacking, the effort they went to,” he added.
The gang had crawled along the shelving units, knocking other items on to the floor, in order to get to the jackets. The family are now offering a £1,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction.
By sharing details about the stolen clothing, they are hoping it will make it difficult for the thieves to sell them on and that someone will come forward.
Mrs Coleman said: “They took quite a lot of shooting jackets, we think that’s what they were after seeing as it’s the right time of year.”
“But the one thing we have on them is that they have quite a distinctive label.”
V&J Knitwear is the only store in the region to sell the jackets, with the next stockist being in North London.
“That might be their undoing,” Mrs Coleman added.
“It’s just a case of trying to get people to know about it so that if they do get offered them, hopefully somebody will come forward.”
If any positives are to come from this, it is the sheer amount of support they have had, they said.
“The local community have been lovely. We have had former staff members come in and people have brought flowers and chocolates – it’s like someone has had a baby,” Mr Waterfield said.
A host of businesses have stepped up to help them in the wake of the burglary too.
Mr Waterfield said Robson Construction had rebuilt their broken wall before midday on Tuesday, and SWC Security have said they will check their premises regularly for them.
“We have spoken to Clock Wash in Gaywood, as we have £2,500 worth of clothes we can’t do anything with, and they have said they will wash them for us so we can give them to charity,” Mr Waterfield added.
V&J Knitwear, which was set up by the pair’s parents Val and John in 1968, is set to celebrate its 50th anniversary next year.
Anyone with information should contact police on 101, quoting crime reference number 36/76218/17.