A FAMILY-run garden centre has appealed for help after being targeted by a thief who stole hundreds of pounds worth of garden plants.

John Goodey, whose family owns Thamesdown Garden Centre in Garsington, says he believes the box topiary was taken specifically to order as the burglar appeared to be taking orders over the phone.

He has therefore urged people to look out for box pyramids, ball boxes and spirals suddenly appearing in gardens.

The 62-year-old said about £600 worth of goods were stolen in the early hours of last Wednesday morning in what he thought was a planned theft after viewing the store's CCTV.

Semi-retired Mr Goodey, who lives on the garden centre site with younger brother Norman, said: "It's quite heartless really.

"This is our livelihood, especially my sisters as she runs most of the business. The man on the CCTV is on the phone and looks like he is going round choosing what to take.

"I just hope if a neighbour sees seven or eight topiary pieces appear in a garden they get in touch, they would certainly be able to tell."

Mr Goodey said at just before midnight, the CCTV shows a white Citroen van pull up and shine lights on the gate before driving off.

He added at about 2.50am a car pulled up and man got out on his mobile phone, unwrapped the chain and stole two plants before leaving the gate open as he made off.

Then, 25 minutes later the CCTV shows the same vehicle with a passenger in it return and a man getting out his mobile phone before snatching six more boxes worth between £65 and £75 each.

The Goodey family, who have run the Oxford Road centre for more than 40 years, were fast asleep did not realise a crime had taken place until they asked each other whether any boxes had been sold.

Mr Goodey said the thief would not have been able to tell the gate was unlocked had he not "really looked at it."

He added: "It seems like the person was stealing for somebody and it makes me think he has been here before.

"You can see the man takes the boxes and then realises he hasn't shut the gate, so comes back and wraps the chain around so it looks exactly like it was.

"We think he must have done something like this before."

Mr Goodey said the goods were not insured due to the price of the premiums being too expensive.

It comes as figures released in August by insurance company NFU Mutual said thefts of farm tools, garden equipment and quad bikes cost almost three quarters of a million pounds in insurance claims last year - 16 per cent more than in 2014.

Thames Valley Police said no arrests had been made and anyone who has information should contact 101.