A forestry contractor is offering a £10,000 reward for information leading to the conviction of the ‘malicious, mindless thugs’ who set fire to around £700,000 worth of logging machinery.

A harvester and forwarder belonging to Robinson and Sons Timber were targeted at the Osberton Estate in Worksop, where they had been completing clearance work at the site.

Four large batteries were stolen before the machines were deliberately set on fire – destroying them both. The Newark-based firm said the harvester was a John Deere 1270E IT4, while the forwarder, a John Deere 1110G, only had 250 hours on it.

Contractor Donna Robinson said: “When I found out what had happened I just wanted to cry. It was just such a terrible shock for us – I really have no words to describe how angry and upset I was about it.

“Stealing the batteries and putting us out of action for days was bad enough, but to follow it up by setting fire to the machines as well was just wanton, mindless thuggery. I just can’t understand why somebody would want to do that.

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“When people read stories like this they may just assume that we claim the money back on insurance and replace the machines, but it really isn’t that simple. The reality is that many different people have suffered as a result of this – from the lads on the site who are now unable to work and the landowner – to the sawmill that’s waiting for a delivery.

“These machines are also very specialist and we face a considerable wait for others to be pre-ordered and delivered. It’s not like replacing a car with another one. As a result we’ve had to pay out immediately to buy some second-hand machines to use in the meantime. We’ll also be looking at a considerable rise to our insurance costs next year.

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“These are huge costs for us but ones that we are now big enough to survive. Had this happened to us when we were first starting out it probably would have finished us off – all because at least one person decided to do this to us.

“I am absolutely determined that we track down the person or people responsible for what happened and am willing to offer a £10,000 reward to anyone who comes forward with information that leads to a conviction in this case.”

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Police are investigating the incident, which took place overnight on 25–26 May.

Inspector Neil Bellamy, district commander for Bassetlaw, said: “This was a mindless attack that has had very significant consequences for a local business. Our investigation is ongoing and we are determined to track down whoever is responsible and are appealing for information from anyone who may have information about what happened. I believe that somebody in the community may know something about this incident and that that this generous reward offer will inspire them to come forward.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting incident 109 of 26 May.

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