THIEVES used stolen vans to smash their way into shops and businesses during a series of “ram-raid” burglaries.
Police are now hunting the culprits, who used the hot-wired vans to carry out a crime spree across the Fylde coast on Sunday.
The first incident happened at around 5.40pm when a grey Ford transit van – stolen from Stopford Avenue, Bispham – was used to smash into the metal shutters at Bispham’s One Stop Hire Shop, Mowbray Drive.
The thieves then prised open the shutter door and entered the store, but left empty-handed after being disturbed by the alarm.
Just over an hour later a second van, a Ford P100 Poplar pick-up stolen from Lindsay Court, St Annes, was used in two further raids.
Police believe the same gang are responsible for all three incidents.
At 7.15pm the van was driven into the Top Gun Airnailers Unit, Trident Business Centre on Amy Johnson Way, South Shore, bending the metal shutter door and allowing the thieves to gain access and steal a number of nail guns.
The same vehicle was then used in an incident at Smiths Equipment Hire 15 minutes later, with the raiders using the vehicle to ram a large roller shutter of the Clifton Road property but failing to gain entry.
Smiths manager Richard Napier said: “They rammed the warehouse doors but didn’t manage to get anything because someone shouted at them from one of the flats opposite and scared them off.”
Dean Cartwright, owner of the One Stop Hire shop, added: “We are trying to do a job here and run a business and some people are coming around and smashing it up.
“They managed to smash the doors off and caused about £1,000 of damage.
“We didn’t have to close but we had no idea what had happened until all of the alarms started going off.”
Sgt Russel Farrand, from Blackpool Police’s target team, said: “We believe these transit type vehicles have been targeted and the offenders were looking for power tools, most likely to be stolen to order.
“Both stolen vehicles were hot-wired so I’d urge owners of these older style vans to be vigilant, ensure their vehicles are secure and to report any suspicious activity to police.”
Police discovered the grey Ford transit abandoned near to Poulton Old Road at the junction with Wades Court, on the edge of the Grange Park estate, on Sunday night.
The Popular pick-up was also found abandoned on the Mereside estate.
Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 with information.