Gang of thieves abduct security guard

POLICE were today hunting a gang of thieves who abducted a security guard while stealing a container lorry – just weeks after a nightwatchman was kidnapped in Felixstowe.

POLICE were today hunting a gang of thieves who abducted a security guard while stealing a container lorry – just weeks after a nightwatchman was kidnapped in Felixstowe.

Both of the terrifying incidents have striking similarities, though detectives are not linking them at this stage.

Officers say it is too early to be sure whether it is the same gang which has struck again – just a mile away as the crow flies – or a copycat operation.

Detectives in Essex were due today to liaise with their Suffolk counterparts over the details of the raids, which were harrowing ordeals for the guards involved.

In the latest incident, a 43-year-old security guard was abducted from a lorry parking compound in Harwich's industrial area.

He was patrolling the yard just after midnight yesterday when a four-door saloon car pulled into the compound. A group of men grabbed him and threw him in the boot of the car.

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"They just drove around and then eventually dumped him and drove off. He was badly shaken but not injured," said an Essex police spokeswoman.

The guard was dumped at Waltham Abbey, just off the M25 – 70 miles away.

The thieves took a blue tractor unit and a white container full of designer shoes made by Caterpillar, worth tens of thousands of pounds.

In January, a gang of thieves kidnapped security guard Stewart Williams from the premises of Pentalver Transport, in Blofield Road, Felixstowe, as they stole three lorries and cargoes of Nike designer footwear and boys' cotton trousers.

The crooks had been watching the yard for some time before the theft, analysing its comings and goings and staff movements, and removed CCTV cameras which would have recorded their swoop.

When they stole the lorries, they arrived in a white van, dressed in fake police uniforms and handcuffed and bundled Mr Williams inside the vehicle. They later dumped him by the roadside on the A414 between Ongar and Chelmsford.

Mr Williams, who worked for Securicor, said it was the most traumatic experience of his life and one he will never forget.

"Throughout the ordeal I had no idea what the outcome would be and, in short, I feared for my life," he said.

Police believe the thefts are far from random and are carefully-planned with gangs working on inside information.

Within hours of a heist, the cargo is split into many smaller parts and is en route to other parts of the country as part of a well-organised distribution network.

The Road Haulage Association says more than £500m worth of trucks and goods are stolen each year. There are 40,000 truck crimes a year in the UK, and more than 3,000 HGVs are stolen annually and never recovered.

WEBLINK: www.rha.net

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