A BUSINESSMAN from St Ives has offered a £5,000 reward after a removal lorry – full of a family’s possessions – was stolen just days before Christmas.

The 35ft-long Scania lorry and its 15ft trailer, worth between £15,000 and £20,000, were stolen from Cromwell Removals’ yard in Needingworth on Wednesday evening last week (December 12).

Steve Cruttenden said it was the first time in his 20 years of running the family business that anything like this had happened.

He has offered the reward in exchange for information leading to the successful prosecution of those responsible.

Mr Cruttenden runs the business with his wife Linda and their sons, Edward and James.

He told The Hunts Post: “My main concern is the customers.

“I have served the community for 20 years and in some respects they have served us,” he said. “Linda does all the personal packing and then we come in and do the removals.

“We try our hardest for our customers and I am very upset for the family who have lost their possessions.

“I just want people to know that we are doing all we can for them. Moving people is a very personal business. There is a lot of trust involved on both parts.

“Luckily, they had all their personal bits and pieces with them – passports, photographs and things like that. It’s still a nightmare but it’s a slightly different situation.”

Mr Cruttenden said he and his family are concerned that the thieves will return.

“We are scared that they are going to come back for the other lorry.

“I have watched the CCTV and saw them arrive at 6.40pm. It took them 10 minutes to get the lorry started and they were away.

“They came back later and stole all the diesel out of the other lorry, so when we went to start it the next morning it just conked out.

“Thieves drained our lorries of diesel twice in a week – it’s been a problem in the transport yard.”

He continued: “The lorry is blue and yellow and has our name and phone number all over it. It stands out like a Christmas tree.”

Mr Cruttenden said he believes the thieves have probably stripped the lorry of its engine and gearbox and sent them abroad.

Detective Constable Fozia Rehman said: “We are investigating reports of a theft of a removal van from Needingworth Industrial Estate.

“A sofa, sideboard, dining table, beds, wardrobes, television and other goods were taken.

“We are carrying out enquiries locally by speaking to witnesses and viewing CCTV.

“I would urge anyone who may have seen this removal van, before or after the theft, or have been offered furniture for sale to call police.”

The case has also been passed to the company’s insurers.

CONTACT: Anyone with information should call DC Reham on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.