Thieves who tried to steal giant road building machines on Bedford’s Western Bypass site set fire to them when they realised they would not budge.
The heavy vehicles were being stored overnight on the construction area of the final section of the road, which may cause delays to the work
When the thieves tried – and failed – to steal a 21 tonne extractor, they set fire to it, and came back for more three nights later.
Road builders J Breheny Contractors Ltd said the gang did manage to start the extractor last Friday night, November 7, but due to its anti-theft immobilsers, it wasn’t going anywhere.
Business development manager Greg Atherton said they did take £3,000 of portable equipment from a storage container, before setting light to the extractor and making their escape.
He added: “Thieves came back again on Monday to try to steal a 30-tonne dumper truck and a 13-tonne roller with little success. So they set fire to those as well.
“They couldn’t get into the container on Friday as we had parked vehicles in front of it.”
He added: “Plant theft is a big thing, and more common than you might think.”
Despite the arson attacks and theft of equipment, the contractor hopes to complete the £18.5 million road project within 18 months.
J Breheny MD Trevor Stiff said: “The damage caused by this attack will inevitably cause some delays to our work, but we will do our best to keep these to a minimum.
“It is a great pity that the actions of a few callous individuals have caused delays to a project which will benefit the community when it is complete.”
The new section will link the A421 to the A6 to the west of the town.
Police are investigating the incidents. In the meantime, J Breheny has upped its security at the site.
General foreman Richard Jones said there will be guards on site 24-hours a day, seven days a week.
He added: “What’s the point of destroying the vehicles? Because we have made it difficult to steal them, they set fire to them. It’s utterly mindless.”
Police are urging anyone who saw anything at the site during Friday and Monday nights to call 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.