CALCULATED thieves are believed to have ransacked an allotment site in Barton to thousands of pounds worth of tools and equipment.

Members who grow their crops on the site at the bottom of Barton Village Road were horrified to discover ten sheds had been smashed into and various items stolen during an overnight raid.

Items stolen from the allotments, which has 80 plots in use for 68 members, included a Stihl strimmer and harness and a Honda mower from the main shed.

A total of 22 tillers, one Rotavator, a chainsaw, angle grinder, tool box and two further mowers and strimmers were stolen from the other nine sheds. The allotmenteers said they thought at least three people had carried out the thefts, adding they believed it was a planned operation.

Secretary for the Barton allotments Janette Washington told the Oxford Mail how the thieves had prised open a security gate accessing the allotments from the A40 with a hydraulic tool during the night between July 11 and 12.

She added: "They went into the main shed and took two pieces of equipment and went into several other sheds.

"They knew exactly what they were after.

"They knew exactly what was in everybody's sheds. I don't think they broke into any sheds which didn't have any equipment in them. They used three wheelbarrows that they found on site and put the equipment in it and wheeled it up to the gate to hand to somebody to load it into a van."

Mrs Washington said the police were called after one member was down at the site the following morning and discovered the damage.

According to the allotmenteers the equipment stolen from the sheds will cost between £4,000 and £5,000 to replace, with the Stihl strimmer costing £1,300 alone.

Mrs Washington added: "The police have been incredibly helpful and came that morning. We know there is probably three people involved. There was three wheelbarrows left at the side of the A40, there might have been driver involved too. We have public liability insurance for the site, but we can not get it [for the tools].

"Some people will find it very difficult to replace their machinery."

Thames Valley Police confirmed the theft had been reported to them and offices urged members of the community to be 'vigilant and report any suspicious activity, vehicles and people'.

In a statement, they said: "Please ensure that your sheds and gardens are secure and that you don't leave tools in vehicles or on display overnight.

"Remember even the smallest piece of information like a registration plate from a suspicious vehicle or a physical description of a person could prove to be invaluable."

The thefts last week were part of a series of burglaries and break-ins across Oxford in the past two weeks, which at this stage aren't being linked.