ALLOTMENT owners in Dorchester have been left outraged after thieves broke into 36 sheds in an overnight raid.

The thieves made off with a range of tools and equipment from the Herringston Road allotments, including a lawn mower, strimmer and a Rotavator worth £250.

Ken Lambert, who has an allotment at the site and co-ordinates the allotments for Dorchester Town Council, said the break-in was the worst he had ever seen.

He said: “Quite simply I have been here 45 years and this is the worst I have ever experienced.

“When you consider 36 sheds have actually been broken into, it’s despicable.”

Mr Lambert said it was difficult to tell exactly how much had been taken but the damage alone would cost hundreds of pounds to repair.

He said the average cost of the damage to each shed was around £20, but several allotment users would have to fork out a lot more.

Mr Lambert said the theft must have occurred between the time the last tenant left the site at 9.30pm on Wednesday evening and 8am on Thursday morning.

He said the thieves must have been on the site for some time and urged anyone who had seen or noticed anything to contact the police.

He added: “It took us over an hour to go round and check the sheds after we found out so they must have been here at least an hour.

“There must have been at least two of them, one had bolt croppers and was cutting padlocks and one had a crowbar.”

Mr Lambert said there was a lot of upset amongst allotment users after the break-in.

He added: “They are very angry because allotment work is hard work and I feel sorry for younger people who are just learning their skills so in the future they can grow things organically.

“To those that have done it I would say ‘treat others as you would want to be treated yourself’.”

Mr Lambert said some members had their postcodes etched into their tools and other items in the sheds to identify them following a session with the local crime prevention panel. He said they were now in discussions with police about a new invisible identification scheme that uses DNA to mark items.

Inspector Les Fry of Dorchester Police said witnesses or anyone who is offered a rotavator or other gardening equipment that they think could be stolen can contact the police on 01305 222222.