York & North Yorkshire

Thieves ruin plants in Harrogate commercial nursery break-in

Johnson's of Whixley Image copyright Plants ransacked at Johnson's
Image caption The nursery sells about seven million trees, plants and shrubs nationally each year

Tens of thousands of plants have been ruined by thieves who broke into a commercial nursery in North Yorkshire.

The plants were run over by a dumper truck stolen from Johnson's of Whixley, Harrogate, which was taken to remove a bowser containing 1,000 litres of fuel.

The break-in happened some time between 22:00 GMT and midnight on Thursday.

The stolen truck was on site as work is being carried out to expand the premises to house plants unsold during the coronavirus outbreak.

It was driven through the perimeter fence and onto the A59, ploughing through the plants in process. The truck was then left, but the diesel was taken away.

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The nursery supplies about seven million landscape and garden plants commercially each year.

Managing director Graham Richardson said the vandals drove the truck over tens of thousands of plants which were growing in readiness for next year, "because they could and they felt like it".

He said: "They deliberately drove [over] our production line of stock, damaging tens thousands of plants - hardy landscape plants of differing varieties, not saleable, but in production for the future."

Image copyright Johnson's of Whixley
Image caption A tanker of 1,000 litres of diesel was stolen by thieves

Johnson's employs up to 150 people but is currently operating on a skeleton staff due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Richardson added: "We have to grow next year's plants so we are ready for recovery when it comes. We also need to be here to supply civil engineers who continue to work throughout this crisis period."

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said inquiries were ongoing and anyone with information should contact them.

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