'It's like a slap in the face'

A BALLYMONEY man has hit out at thieves who took over £10,000 of equipment from his vehicle car wash/valeting business last Tuesday night.

Autoshine has been trading at Ballybrakes Industrial Estate since 2008 however owner Ryan McIlwee moved to a new unit only a week before the break-in.

It is believed the robbers gained access to the premises by using an electronic saw to cut the security gates before gaining entry through the roof.

Amongst the items stolen were a number of power washers worth over 2,000 each plus an Adventure Buggy Duo which weighed over 200kg.

This is the second time in recent weeks that tens of thousands of pounds worth of equipment has been taken from a business in the town. Earlier this month thieves targeted Pro-Tec at Dalton Road and took between 25,000 and 40,000 worth of specialist industrial clothing.

Speaking to the Times Ryan said he was totally devastated, however reassured his loyal customers that it would be 'business as usual'.

He explained: "The break-in happend last Wednesday night and I was totally devastated when I discovered it the next morning.

"I'm really security conscious but when thieves come armed with an electronic saw to cut open the security gates and then gain access through the roof - how can you beat them?

"I believe there must have been three or four of them as some of the equipment was really heavy and bulky. The buggy alone weighed over 200kg.

"Autoshine has been open since 2008 now at Ballybrakes, however only two weeks ago I moved to a new unit which was better located. I've been working around the clock to ensure that the doors were always open during the move so not to inconvenience customers. However this robbery has really set me back but I'm determined it'll be business as usual.

"In this day and age you can't afford not to be trading and I've had to run around trying to gather up new equipment as fast as possible.

"These thieves have no respect for their local community. Times are hard enough for everyone without somebody stealing 10,055 worth of equipment from your premises. This is my livelihood and puts food on my table, but these thugs just don't care.

"However I'm up and running again now and would really thank the local community for their ever continuing support."

Appealing for information Ballymoney Police confirmed: "Detectives are investigating a break-in at car wash premises in Ballybrakes Business Park in Ballymoney.

"The following items were stolen sometime between 10.30pm on Wednesday (26th) and 7.30am the following day: Hot Ehrle HBS power washer (red in colour), Hot Nilfisk Neptune 4 power washer (blue in colour), Cold Nilfisk TX 12 Interpump power washer (red in colour), Nilfisk industrial hoover, Nilfisk industrial wet/dry valet cleaner , Snap on 18V impact gun, Snap on 18V drill, a two-seater buggy. Smaller items include various tools and car cleaning products.

"Anyone with information about the whereabouts of the items is asked to contact CID on 0845 600 8000. Alternatively information can be passed on anonymously through the 'Crimestoppers' charity on freephone 0800 555 111."