Thieves target Winterton in Bloom displays

Anthony CarrollA coastal community which prides itself on its floral wonders has been targeted by thieves who have stolen eight flower and plant bases dotted around the village.Anthony Carroll

A coastal community which prides itself on its floral wonders has been targeted by thieves who have stolen eight flower and plant bases dotted around the village.

Over the last three weeks Winterton, near Great Yarmouth, has seen eight of its in bloom displays tipped out as thieves stole the half beer barrels they were held in.

The latest theft was discovered on Sunday after two half barrels at Fisherman's Corner were emptied of colourful plants as the culprits made off with the �50 heavy oak planters.

Following the thefts, frustrated Winterton in Bloom organisers said the suspects lacked a conscience and warned other villages in the area to keep an eye out on their beer barrel-based displays.

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Sunday's incident means the village has only four barrels left to fill with plants, small trees and flowers to show off to visitors.

Last year Winterton won the large village section of Anglia in Bloom and although it has not entered the award this year, organisers fear it may hamper their chances of winning a Yarmouth in Bloom prize.

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It is thought that at least two people are carrying out the thefts as it needs a couple of Winterton in Bloom volunteers to move the oak half barrels which are double banded and full of soil and compost.

Yesterday upset Winterton in Bloom organisers surveyed the scenes of the barrel thefts at Fisherman's Corner, the village cricket pitch, the church rooms and village hall.

Jean Neve, vice chairman of the in bloom campaign said: 'They are old beer barrels. They are quite heavy because they are made of oak and are double banded.

'It normally takes two volunteers to move them and so I think it would take two people to lift them up and tip them over.

'The people who have done this do not have a conscience. The whole thing has been a damned nuisance.

'People in the village have been coming up to me saying we are distraught about what has happened and what can we do to help.'

Mrs Neve, who has lived in Winterton for 35 years, said she thought that no one in the village would have participated in the thefts and warned other communities to try and make sure any beer barrels used in displays are secure.

Because of the barrel thefts, volunteers will properly secure replacement barrel planters once they arrive by digging a two ft hole and filling it with concrete and linking the barrels to it with wrought iron rods.

Pam Allen, the chairman of Winterton in Bloom said: 'How can anyone stoop so low as to take planters from a dedicated group of volunteers who have spent years raising funds in order to make their village look beautiful for residents and visitors is just beyond belief.'

Anyone with information on the beer barrel thefts over the last three weeks should contact Norfolk Constabulary on 0845 4564567.

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