A Ride-on lawn mower and pitch-marker used by a football and cricket club has been stolen, leaving a junior club thousands of pounds out of pocket.
Darwen Rangers Junior Football Club recently bought the Branch Road pitches, previously used by Blue Star who have now moved to council pitches.
As part of the deal, Rangers inherited all the equipment, which included the mower and line marker.
But groundsman Ian Cordingley, who cuts the grass on the football pitch, as well as the cricket pitch and bowling green at Sandy Lane recreation ground, discovered the items were missing yesterday morning.
He said: "I was devastated. It is a big metal container and they have smashed the lock off, pulled the metal bar off and gone in.
"We think it happened on Sunday and the police have been told."
Mr Cordingley said he thought the mower would be worth at least £2,500, and the marker a few hundred pounds.
He said: "It was the best mower I had ever used.
"I don't know what we can do now. I have some contacts at golf clubs so I will have to see if I can borrow one.
"Either that or we'll have to pay someone to do it which is not cheap. You are talking £200 to mow a football pitch."
Mr Cordingley said the theft must have been well planned in advance.
He said: "I think they have seen me cutting the grass and have come prepared.
"It is so exposed. There are trees all around so nobody can see what is going on. But they must have had some sort of lorry to get the stuff away."
Darwen Rangers vice-chairman, Bill Stemp, said: "It has come at a bad time as we are set to start in a week's time.
"It was so unexpected as well. It seemed a very secure container. It was quite a shock.
"We paid quite a sum to get the land and equipment so it is a big blow.
"A couple of local firms and the garden centre have CCTV so we are hoping they have seen something."
Anyone with any information is asked to call police on 101.
Article sourced from Lancashire Telegraph