THIEVES have struck at an Oxford allotments site 14 times in the past three months, including four break-ins in one night alone.

Tools, furniture and equipment worth thousands of pounds have been taken in the burglaries at sheds in the Cowmead Allotments in Abingdon Road.

Some victims at the city council-owned allotments have been hit more than once, including disabled plotholder Pauline Chapman.

About £2,000 of her equipment was stolen in two break-ins, including mowers and a rotavator she uses because of her mobility problems.

Mrs Chapman, who has restricted movement because of arthrities, said: “They took my kettle and camping stove I use to make a cup of tea. What will they get for that? They even took my jacket, that was hanging up.

“It’s very upsetting. We have never had anything like this before.”

Allotment association vice-chairman Reg Madden said the break-ins began to be reported at the end of the summer.

He said the site, which is home to about 140 gardeners, had never had a problem with security until now.

Mr Madden added: “We have had at least 14 break-ins now in the past three months.”

He said four sheds were broken into on just one night last month.

“We have reported it to police but there isn’t anything they can do,” Mr Madden said.

He said nothing was stolen in the first couple of break-ins, which led growers to think it was the work of children.

But since then tools and equipment had been taken.

Mr Madden said the thieves would have needed a vehicle to take away many of the things they had stolen.

He said: “It’s happening in the early hours or late at night.”

Mr Madden added it was not just the financial loss that affected growers, who had invested a lot of time and effort in their plots.

“It’s pretty heartbreaking for the allotment holders,” he said.

He said it was very difficult for allotment holders to get insurance for equipment stored in sheds.

Police spokesman Chris Kearney said neighbourhood officers were keeping watch on the site.

Anyone who sees anything suspicious at the Cowmead Allotments or has information should call police on 08458 505505.