A garage boss today slammed heartless thieves who stole an irreplaceable “one-off” item during a raid that cost his business more than £20,000.
Among the equipment taken from Holden’s Garage, on Kingsland Grove, was a rare gun given to boss Stephen Holden by a close friend shortly before he died.
The thieves broke in through the roof of the building before smashing CCTV cameras and destroying the recorded footage.
Mr Holden, who discovered the damage when he arrived for work on Wednesday, is now putting up a £500 reward for anyone who returns the gun.
He said: “It’s got real sentimental value – it’s a one-off.
“It’s like the Queens’ jewels to me – nobody has touched that gun in more than 10 years.
“Everyone who knows me and has been in this garage knows that gun.”
The thieves also took thousands of pounds of diagnostic equipment that Mr Holden had spent four years paying off.
But Mr Holden, 35, said he was more concerned about getting back the gun, which was given to him by close pal Danny Ashton, shortly before he died in 1995.
The pair had studied together at Blackpool Sixth Form college before Mr Ashton, then 17, died of an overdose after collapsing outside the Palace nightclub
Mr Holden said: “I’ve got a £10,000 tool box, everyone knows where it is, and all my staff know not to touch it. It was in there.
“I’ve got two quadbikes here and a £50,000 car I’m building for a customer so this was either petty theft or a vendetta.
“I can’t afford to replace all the equipment – I had just paid it off over four years and now it’s gone in one night.”
Graham Green, of Bell Green loss assessors, estimated the cost of the theft to be more than £20,000.
Police said the thieves gained access through a neighbouring garden to avoid the locked alley gate before smashing their way in through the roof.
A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “Between 6pm on Tuesday and 8am on Wednesday, unknown offenders have forced their way through the metal roof.
“They tried to rip out the CCTV equipment and stole several tools before they left the scene through the front shutter doors.
“Inquiries are ongoing and we are looking into CCTV at neighbouring properties.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101.