A GARDENER has said he has not been able to sleep since he was ‘intimidated’ by a group of men who stole his tools twice in one day while he was working on a job.

The man, who has asked not to be named, was clearing a ditch in Upper Arncott, near Bicester, on Friday when he was approached by a group of men at around 3pm asking to borrow his tools.

The Bicester resident said: “A van turned up and some guys got out intimidating me and asking me for my tools. They wanted my phone number, too, so they could return them.

“I said no at first, but then because I was alone and they kept threatening me, I gave them the tools and my number and they left.

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“I rang for help and, as it was on its way, another van turned up with five men and took the rest of my tools.

“They’ve called me four times making threats. I fear for my safety and haven’t slept since. I urge residents in the area to be vigilant.”

The theft happened on his first day back to work in three months after suffering from an illness.

The thieves took his hedge cutter, chainsaw, helmet and leaf blower, tools that he says comes to a total of more than £2,500.

He says he cannot afford to replace them himself and, because the men saw him dressed in his business uniform, he has decided to rebrand his business, costing him more money.

The gardener has therefore set up a fundraising web page for people to help him afford the costs.

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He said: “The job I was working on isn’t complete but I can’t finish it because I don’t have any tools. I don’t like asking for help but I’m beyond helping myself and the likelihood of me getting the tools back are looking slim.

“I wish I never needed to do this, but words cannot describe how grateful I will be with any help in any shape or form I receive.

“As long as I’ve got the tools, I can start working again and earn a living.”

The incident has been reported to Thames Valley Police, which said no arrests have been made.

The force said that if people find themselves face-to-face with offenders, to call them straight away.

A spokesperson from Thames Valley Police said: “We would always advise calling 999 immediately in situations such as this and not to confront offenders themselves.”

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There have been more reports of gardening tool and machinery thefts in Bicester over the past week.

A Bicester couple were left devastated when their garden machinery worth up to £400 went missing from their allotment shed in Leach Road.

Last week, environment group Bicester Green Gym had its tools and first aid kit stolen while doing conservation work.

Police encourage people to lock their tools away securely inside a locker or box or use a battery-operated shed alarm.

To donate to the gardener’s fund, go to gofundme.com.