Flower thieves wreck Fremington bloom chances

CALLOUS crooks have left a village s South West in Bloom hopes in tatters just days before the visit of Royal Horticultural Society judges. In what police believe were premeditated thefts, four of Fremington in Bloom committee s eight wooden flower plante

CALLOUS crooks have left a village's South West in Bloom hopes in tatters just days before the visit of Royal Horticultural Society judges.

In what police believe were premeditated thefts, four of Fremington in Bloom committee's eight wooden flower planters have been stolen in the space of a week.

One was taken from the corner of Yelland Road and Allenstyle Road between June 25 and 30, while a further three were stolen from the same spot between June 5 and 6.

Fremington in Bloom chairman Tony Wood said there wasn't enough time to replace them before the judges visit the village on Monday.

"The committee member looking after these planters is quite distraught and very upset about the whole ordeal," he said.

"It costs around �7,000 a year to put on the displays and we can't afford to keep replacing tubs.

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"We started planting for this summer back in November and lot of hard work has gone into making the village look nice; when planters just disappear like this, it's quite disheartening."

PCSO Tony Charles said that police believed the thefts had been pre-planned.

"The flower planters are quite heavy and would have taken at least two people to lift," he said.

"Someone has gone out with the purpose of intentionally stealing them, possibly with a view to selling them.

"I would ask members of the public to keep an eye out at places like car boot sales and to be mindful of securing items in their own gardens."

Last summer, the Fremington campaign suffered a similar catastrophe when vandals went on the rampage and destroyed displays throughout the village a week before the judges' visit.

"Among the damage, two terracotta pots were taken when the wires attaching them to the gates of Fremington Manor were cut," said Mr Wood.

"We had to rush around and tidy everything up but we still won the gold," he added.

The committee - winners of a South West in Bloom gold award for the last three years - has worked especially hard this year to get the village looking its best in time for summer. Having lost out on �1,700 North Devon Council funding, the committee's efforts were boosted by grants from the ward's two district councillors and Fremington Parish Council.

Anyone with information about the missing planters is asked to call 08452 777444 and quote crime reference CB/09/2645 and CB/09/2710 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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