Thieves steal £8,000 of equipment from sailing operator

Dorset Echo: GUTTED: Warren Surtees at the SailLaser site GUTTED: Warren Surtees at the SailLaser site

THOUSANDS of pounds worth of specialist equipment has been stolen from a Portland sailing operator just weeks before its closure.

SailLaser, based at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, has become well known for its ‘sail for a fiver’ programme which has taught thousands of schoolchildren to sail.

It was announced back in October that SailLaser would leave Portland, and at the end of November posters were put up advertising a sale in a bid to shift remaining stock.

SailLaser centre manager, Warren Surtees, believes that someone saw the posters and targeted the site.

Up to £8,000 worth of sailing stock is believed to have been taken.

Mr Surtees said: “I came in the morning of November 29 and discovered that the 40 to 50cm lock hatch to the remaining stock had been broken.

“I had found a buyer for the stock who was picking it up that same morning which made the theft even more frustrating.

“£8,000 worth of specialist stock including 4.7 sails, radial sails and 4.7 lower mast sections was taken.

“The sailing equipment is very rare in the UK and I believe we are the only supplier of it. I’m absolutely gutted because even though SailLaser is closing down, I have always put in 150 per cent to make sure it’s closed down professionally.

“In the CCTV footage from the sailing academy you can see a shadowy figure run through the shop at 11.30pm and leave about midnight.

“We were targeted last Christmas too; people broke into our reception and stole some printing cartridges, luckily that was all they could get.

“I would urge other businesses to keep extra secure.”

A Dorset Police spokesperson said that a burglary took place at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy within a 50 minute time slot, between November 28 at 11.20pm and 12.10am on November 29.

The spokesman added: “The burglary was reported to us at 11.46am on November 29 and sailing equipment from a storage area was taken.

“At this point there have been no arrests.”

Dorset Police are appealing for information to the burglary and anyone with any information should call 101 quoting police incident number 29:178.

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