South Scotland

Thieves target Newbie pharmaceuticals plant

Drugs plant Image copyright Leslie Barrie
Image caption The pharmaceuticals factory near Annan was broken into in the early hours of Monday

Thieves have struck at a pharmaceuticals factory in southern Scotland.

They made off with a large quantity of a "starting material" from the MacFarlan Smith site at Newbie near Annan in the early hours of Monday.

The company's website describes it as the world's leading manufacturer of opiate alkaloids.

Police warned anyone taking the stolen compound was likely to suffer "significant injury".

The thieves got in through a perimeter fence at the site and entered a warehouse before making off with 22kg of a chemical compound - worth about £11,000 -contained in a brown plastic keg.

'Door-to-door inquiry'

Det Insp Dean Little said: "At this stage we are currently working closely with staff and security at MacFarlan Smith in order to establish the full circumstances surrounding this break-in.

"CCTV at the site and in private premises surrounding the site is currently being reviewed in this process, and a full door-to-door inquiry is under way.

"I am appealing to anyone who may have been in the area of the site late Sunday night or early Monday morning to get in touch with us if they saw or heard anything suspicious, or have any information which might assist in this inquiry."

'Matter of urgency'

He urged the people who took the material not to try to take it.

"At this stage I would like to highlight to the person responsible for taking this compound to be aware that this is a toxic material and not to touch, ingest or consider supplying the material to anyone else," he said.

"Consumption of the material is likely to result in significant injury.

"I am keen to recover this material as soon as possible and would appeal to anyone who may know where it is to make contact with police as a matter of urgency."

MacFarlan Smith took over the south of Scotland site in 2014 after it had been run by a range of companies.

It was originally commissioned by Glaxo in 1980.

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