Thieves who stole equipment worth more than £6,000 from a tree specialists near Carnforth could have put the public at risk, its owner has said.
Recent high winds have made it a busy time for Bergen Tree Services, at Holme, which carries out work across North Lancashire and South Cumbria.
Owner Andrew Hancock told the Guardian that had his staff not been able to continue working, the crime could have put people at risk.
Thieves forced entry to the business, based at Lindeth, City o Pinch in the village, cut through metal security bars and stole 11 chainsaws and two hedge cutters.
Mr Hancock said: “It’s had a massive effect on my ability to do my job. I have got lads out working and managing to satisfy our contractual obligations and keep the public safe from trees.
“It could have sunk a smaller or less well-established business that doesn’t have that level of support we do, so we are fortunate in that respect.
“It’s caused me a good two days of messing about with the insurance but they have been absolutely outstanding.
“The police have been superb, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
The items taken in the December 19 raid included three Stihl and eight Husquarna type chainsaws and two Stihl hedge cutters, worth more than £6,000 in total.
Mr Hancock has also had to replace damaged windows and fencing, adding to the logistical disruption the business has suffered.
He joined police in urging anyone with information to come forward.
He said: “I think someone local is responsible. There are other businesses, other similar set-ups, that have been targeted.
“This was definitely planned. They knew how to get into the building without being seen, coming across the farmland.
“Please ring the police. We need these people caught. This affects local people and businesses and it’s not fair on those to whom we offer a service.”
Police said they were investigating “a number” of chainsaw thefts from businesses in the Carnforth area.
Officers also want to hear from anyone who has been offered a chainsaw for sale.
Investigating officer PC Patrick Cantley said: “The owner of the business is devastated by this theft. The work he carries out in the local area is vitally important to ensuring the safety of people.
“This theft could have potentially had a massive impact on his business - fortunately for him, this was not the case but consequences may have been serious given the high winds experienced recently.
“I appeal to anyone who has any knowledge of this incident or any others in the area to get in contact.
“No matter how small the detail, it could be vital in bringing those responsible to justice and even allowing the victims to have their property returned so they are able to get back to work.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Patrick Cantley at Cumbria Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.