Tradesmen have hit out at thieves responsible for stealing tools from a dozen different work vans in Jedburgh in the space of just one night.
The vehicles were broken into and tools were stolen from them across the Howdenburn area in the early hours of Monday.
Police were alerted to the thefts at around 1am after two men were seen acting suspiciously around vehicles in Howden Road.
Lesley-Anne Grieve, whose husband Donald co-owns one of the firms affected, George and Grieve Joinery, said: “It’s devastating that this has happened and to so many hard-working tradesmen.
“Some of the equipment taken are items that they will have gathered over many years, and replacing them all at one time is so expensive.
“This can also cause havoc with projects being worked on as not having the equipment they need can delay projects, which is frustrating for the company and clients.
“It’s sad and scary what can happen on your own doorstep.”
The 12 vans targeted, all Ford Transits, were parked in Howden Drive, Howden Road, Howden Crescent, Lothian Road, Howdenburn Road and Howdenburn Court.
Jedburgh Community Council chairman Rory Stewart, a self-employed plasterer, added: “Small independent businesses such as those targeted on Monday find that operating in such economic climates is extremely difficult without having the added pressure of having essential work equipment stolen by these thoughtless thieves.
“Such equipment is built up over many years and is extremely expensive to replace immediately.
“These small companies will need to think long and hard about what to do as replacing these tools immediately could affect their cashflow, which then has knock-on effects on the rest of their business.
“These thieves could not care less about what the results of their actions are on people’s livelihoods and have no respect for the law.”
He added: “The manufacturer of these types of commercial vehicles should be addressing the ease of criminal entry and allow small businesses and sole traders the comfort that their tools are safe from theft.”
Police say inquiries are ongoing to establish how many tools were stolen and their value. They are appealing to any potential witnesses to get in touch.
Detective sergeant Callum Peoples, of the criminal investigation department at Galashiels police station, said: “We believe those responsible have arrived in the area in a dark-coloured vehicle, possibly between the hours of 1am and 2am on Monday, January 14.
“We’d urge anyone who may have CCTV covering their property or anyone who may have driven through the area and be filming via dashcam, to check their systems for any suspicious activity captured overnight last night.
“The public are reminded to ensure vehicles are securely locked and, where possible, items of value are removed from vans and kept secure elsewhere.
“Our recommendation is always to mark tools so that they can be identified should they be stolen.”
Anyone with information should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111, quoting incident No 0126 of January 14