Dog walker given £5,000 reward after finding stolen machinery

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest.

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest. - Credit: Mark Haven

A dog walker who found a stolen piece of agricultural machinery hidden in Thetford Forest has been given a £5,000 reward.  

Mark Havens reported his £20,000 AVANT 423 loader with log grab stolen on Wednesday, January 6, from the car park next to the Church of Nazarene in Thetford. 

Mr Havens' business was contracted by Norfolk County Council to help with a new cycle path on Croxton Road. 

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest.

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest. - Credit: Mark Haven

The 58-year-old, who lives near Bungay, said: “On the Tuesday, at the end of the day, I didn’t know whether to leave it at the site, but rather than take it all the way home with us we parked it behind a 14-tonne agricultural trailer and besides that we blocked it in with a lorry.  

“The loader was covered so it couldn’t be seen and it was jammed in the corner of the car park, so it would be difficult to move.  


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“So, when we were turned up on Wednesday morning, we were shocked to see it gone.” 

Nazarene church minister Paul Welham posted on Thetford Forum Facebook group on behalf of Mr Havens, who had offered a £5,000 reward for information that helped to recover it. 

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At 3am on Thursday, January 7, Mr Havens got a call from a dog walker.

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest.

The AVANT 423 Loader with log grab which was stolen in Thetford, was discovered by a dog walker in Thetford Forest. - Credit: Mark Haven

Steve, who does not wish to reveal his identity, was walking with his wife when she spotted the loader on Wednesday, January 6, around midday.

The 66-year-old assumed it belonged to the Forestry Commission.  

But in the early hours of Thursday morning, as he scrolled through Facebook, Steve spotted the Facebook post and called Mr Havens. 

“We went and checked it out about 7am,” said Mr Haven. “It was down a track in Thetford Forest, about four miles from where it got stolen. 

“It was hidden in the forest, covered in branches and wood. It was sheer luck the guy spotted it. 

“When we retrieved the machine, we couldn’t get it straight out as they pulled the wires out of the ignition. But we got it back home and there was no damage to it.  

“On Friday I called Steve, and we gave him a cheque for £5,000. He was over the moon and I am really pleased to have my machine back."

Steve, who lives near Croxton Road, said: “It was unbelievable, but I wasn’t overly worried about the money, I was just glad he got his machine back. 

“We just happened to be in the right place in the right time. We went for a dog walk and came back £5,000 richer, it’s crazy.” 

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