EQUIPMENT valued at £8,000 has been stolen from a popular bowling club, throwing its future in doubt.
The burglary means the greens at the King George V Bowling Club in Framwellgate Moor, Durham, will be untended just weeks before the start of the season.
Club chairman Len Ferguson, 79, said: “We have no equipment and are in limbo at the moment. This was a planned job, they came with the right equipment and knew what they were after.” Between 3.30pm on March 5 and 8am on March 8, thieves cut through fencing surrounding the green off Front Street. They cut through metal hinges and stole a range of machinery used in the upkeep of the greens.
Included were two strimmers, two grass cutters, cutter blades, a white line marker, two large petrol can containers and a bowling green grass cutter.
It is estimated the club, set up about 55 years ago, has lost £8,000-worth of equipment – the same amount it was awarded last September in funds from the Lottery’s Awards for All scheme.
Mr Ferguson, club chairman for nine years, said part of the funding was spent buying the equipment to maintain the greens to a high standard.
It currently has 40 members who, once the new season starts in April, will play Tuesdays through to Saturdays in divisions including a veterans’ league and the Durham and district league. Because of the raid the start of the club’s season could be stalled for the first time in its history as it waits to find out if insurance will cover the cost of replacing the equipment.
Mr Ferguson added: “This has never happened before.
“We cannot say for definite we will be ready for when the league starts but I remain hopeful we will be.”
Durham Police are investigating the burglary and are appealing for anyone with information to contact them.
PC Victoria Clark, who works in Durham city, said: “They approached the large metal container forcing entry by cutting through the metal hinges.
“The suspects would have needed a large vehicle to remove all of the property.”
Anyone with information can contact Durham Police on 0345 6060 365 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.