'It took them just four minutes to break-in' - Snow hero devastated after thieves steal £4,000 worth of tools
PUBLISHED: 12:29 16 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:08 16 April 2019
A business owner hailed a local hero during last year's Beast from the East has had more than £4,000 worth of tools stolen from his truck while he sat just metres away.
Jonathan Court, 33, of Fakenham, is the owner of Norfolk Tree Services Ltd, and is well known in the area for his support in the community.
During last February's heavy snowfall, he clocked up more than 30 hours over two days going to the aid of others.
The former Army Reserve soldier used his Land Rover rescuing stranded drivers, dropping off care packages of food and drink, taking people to GP appointments, delivering prescriptions, and even driving a doctor to Norwich for a shift.
Following the snow storm's devastation, Mr Court had to repair his truck and its engine at the cost of £1,800. Sadly vandals damaged his vehicle by ripping off air vent cowling just days later.
Now the tree surgeon has been the target of another crime after thieves made off with four chainsaws - vital equipment for his work.
On Thursday April 11 at around 1pm, Mr Court and two coworkers parked off George Edwards Road, in Fakenham, to stop for lunch.
“We could see the front of the truck from where we were sitting,” he said.
“Suddenly someone shouted 'someone is in your truck' and with that me and the two guys working for me jumped up and ran to it but they were already driving off.
“It took them just four minutes to break-in and take my tools.”
The chainsaws, which were bought second hand, were rebuilt by Mr Court but now he has been forced to use old ones.
“They nicked these saws and some other bits which to replace new would be approximately £4,000.
“All these saws are old but have been nuts and bolts renewed and rebuilt like new.
“It's quite devastating really. I am now relying on begging and borrowing to get by on the next jobs.
“I'm just trying to run a nice, little business but it keeps taking a step back every step of the way. I worked hard for years, working seven days a week, and now I've been put back to square one in just a few hours.”
Members of the community have been quick to come to the aid of Mr Court, including Kate Banks and Corinne Steade, who both work at The Gym in Fakenham. The pair also witnessed the incident after they heard “merry hell” coming from the car park.
Miss Banks, 36, of Rudham, said: “I heard all of the commotion and when I realised what had happened, I wanted to help.
“I don't know Jonathan but, from saving those stranded in the Beast from the East storm to saving cats up trees, he cares for the local community and tries to help when he can.
“His livelihood has been ruined by stealing his tools which are crucial to running his business. Without them he simply cannot continue.
“Unfortunately, Jonathan, as many tradesmen do, he'd modified and hand built some of the tools stolen making them void on an insurance claim.
“We are asking anybody - businesses, parents, the locals that he had helped - to get involved and pay it forward.”
- A Just Giving page has been set up to raise funds to replace Mr Court's equipment. You can donate here .
- Norfolk police confirmed it was investigating the incident and asked anyone with any information to contact the non-emergency number on 101, or anonymously contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.