AUDACIOUS thieves have stolen more than £80,000 of scrap metal during a daring night-time raid on a yard on the outskirts of Torrington Five people are suspected of taking part in the break-in at Deepmoor Metal Processors in the early hours of Friday morn

AUDACIOUS thieves have stolen more than £80,000 of scrap metal during a daring night-time raid on a yard on the outskirts of Torrington

Five people are suspected of taking part in the break-in at Deepmoor Metal Processors in the early hours of Friday morning.

Crooks cut through a chain link fence at the rear of the family business and spent nearly five hours hauling tonnes of copper and brass across the yard before making a getaway on a stolen tractor through an adjoining field.

Working under torchlight, it is thought the gang used metal scaffold poles to hand lift 12 bags of chopped copper pipe and cylinders, around nine tonnes in total. They also took 250 kilos of brass bullet shells; 200 kilos brass swarf; three bags of brass, each weighing around a tonne; as well as a large amount of baled pyro, brass and copper radiators, copper wire and lacquered wire.

Patricia Poulton, who has run the business with her husband Arthur for the last 20 years, said she was still in shock after discovering the break-in early on Friday morning.

"We were asleep in our bungalow just 25 yards away and didn't hear a thing," she told the Gazette.

"It was so well planned, and they were so that brazen, it's probably a good job that we didn't wake up. I don't feel safe any more; anything could have happened."

Mr Poulton said he was just about to order a lorry to pick up the metal, collected since the beginning of the year.

"This is the first time that something like this has happened here before," he said. "Copper and brass is currently selling for around £4,000 a tonne and the person I spoke to at the British Metal Recycling Association told us that there are a lot of these types of thefts going around at the moment."

Thieves are thought to have broken in at around 0.30am and fled before daylight at 5.05am.

Police said that a scene of crime team searched the adjoining field. They also confirmed that CCTV footage taken at the yard was being investigated.

"The incident is being actively investigated and we would urge anyone who saw or heard anything suspicious to contact police on 08452 777444 and quote log CT10 355," said a press office spokesperson.