Barrels are stolen from brewery

PUBLISHED: 13:54 20 April 2006 | UPDATED: 13:23 04 May 2010

BUNGLING thieves staged an intricate night-time raid on Little Downham s Fenland Brewery - and then left half their haul behind because they couldn t fit it in their van. They crept up to the brewery in Crowbridge Hall Road with wire cutters and sliced th

BUNGLING thieves staged an intricate night-time raid on Little Downham's Fenland Brewery - and then left half their haul behind because they couldn't fit it in their van.

They crept up to the brewery in Crowbridge Hall Road with wire cutters and sliced through the 6ft fence.

But they made the hole four feet off the ground and were forced to lift their haul of empty stainless steel beer barrels up and over the wire.

They piled 180 barrels, many embossed with the brewery's name and all marked with its distinctive yellow, black and red stripes, on the road outside.

As they loaded the barrels into their getaway vehicle they realised they wouldn't all fit and were forced to drive off leaving 90 behind.

Environmental health officers discovered the discarded barrels the following morning and ordered brewery owner David Griffiths to remove them, believing they had been fly-tipped.

Now he believes the barrels, worth about £300, could be passed on to an unscrupulous small back street brewery or sold for scrap.

He said: "The barrels are banded with our colours and are unique to the Fenland Brewery. Half of them were embossed with our name. I was surprised they stole the embossed ones because they are easily traceable.

"We are coming up to our busiest time of the year and we have lost a sixth of our barrels overnight. We have got plenty of beer but nothing to put it in. Luckily, I ordered some extra plastic ones last year so we will be able to get by."

Thefts of stainless steel beer barrels have become commonplace in the north of England but scrap yards are wary about taking them because the brewing industry is clamping down and prosecuting, said Mr Griffiths.

He believes it is more likely the barrels will be sold on to another brewery.

Fenland Brewery was established in Chatteris in 1997 moving to Little Downham in 2004.

Ely police are appealing for witnesses to the theft which happened last week between 9pm on Monday and 9am on Tuesday.

INFO: Anyone with any information is asked to contact the police on 0845 456 4564.

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