Non-profit conservation group High Weald Partnership [HWP] has launched an online appeal after thieves stole their main van along with tools. They need to raise £4,000.
The organisation preserves green spaces in Tunbridge Wells, including Grosvenor & Hilbert Park and Southborough Common, helping plant and coppice.
But since the £10,000 Mitsubishi L200 pick-up was stolen, when criminals raided their office at Bedgebury Forest and stole the key, the group has been deprived of its most important asset.
Partnership Officer Cally Fiddimore said the loss of their primary van has left HWP’s eight staff using their own cars to attend jobs and carry tools.
“Discovering the break-in was a total shock,” she said.
“Everyone was upset and we had to cancel our volunteer day [which usually sees around 15-20 people take part in a preservation activity].
“The loss has restricted some of the things we can do and the insurance claim will cost us.”
Mrs Fiddimore said the van was also useful for support in flooding or in cutting down trees and in providing transportation for education sessions.
HWP has a smaller Volkswagen Caddy but this cannot meet their needs.
“The break-in must have been completed by someone who scoped the site out,” she added. “We reported it straight away but the police don’t know who did it.”
Four chainsaws, their stove and camera were also taken. Burglars were thought to have taken these from inside the office and then put them inside the L200 before driving off.
The total loss is estimated to be £15,000 to £20,000 but their insurance company would only pay £6,000 towards the £10,000 for the van.
HWP is looking to raise the remaining £4,000 through an appeal on Spacehive website before February 12. The organisation works in partnership with Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
Mrs Fiddimore continued: “We realised we weren’t going to get enough to replace the truck so we were looking at other ways to raise the money and crowd funding online seemed to be a good way of doing that.
“It has been very positive, we have had a lot of responses and people have shared the message. We have a lot of supporters in the community.”
Spacehive operates an unusual policy where donators make a pledge and no money is taken until the fundraising time limit finishes.
If the target amount is not reached then no money is exchanged.
Since the appeal began last week, 21 people have made a pledge and, at the time of writing, £435 had been ‘raised’ – around 10 per cent of their goal.
To pledge, visit www.spacehive.com and search ‘stuck without a truck’.
To report information of the burglary call Kent Police on 101 and cite the crime reference number: 13/0184.