Tradesman Matt’s warning to others after distraction theft in Royston

PUBLISHED: 08:30 15 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:30 15 February 2018

Matt McQueen had his Ford Transit van stolen while he was working on a driveway in Royston. Picture: Courtesy of Matt McQueen

Matt McQueen had his Ford Transit van stolen while he was working on a driveway in Royston. Picture: Courtesy of Matt McQueen

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A hard landscaper from Royston who had his van and tools stolen by distraction thieves has said he is gutted, but hopes his plight raises awareness for others vulnerable to tool thefts in the area.

Matt McQueen's van, which he uses for his job as a hard landscaper. Picture: Matt McQueen Matt McQueen's van, which he uses for his job as a hard landscaper. Picture: Matt McQueen

Matt McQueen was laying a driveway in Melbourn Road on Wednesday last week when, between 10.50am and 11am, a man approached him and asked him to have a look at another drive.

The 49-year-old told the Crow: “When I’m out doing driveways I do get asked about other work, so it wasn’t anything unusual.

“He said he wanted me to have a look at his nan’s drive – and led me round the corner of Mill Road. I spoke to him for about five minutes, going through the materials. I said ‘give me your number and I’ll be in touch’, and he said to give him a business card with my number on instead.

“Then he got into a white van and I just twigged then – I looked round the corner and could see my truck was gone.

“I felt a bit silly really – maybe I’m too trusting. I’ve been in Royston for quite a long time and everyone knows everyone – you’re not expecting something like this to happen.”

In the Ford Transit tipper van was Matt’s tools and other items which he uses every day in his work as a hard landscaper, something he has been doing on a self-employed basis for 15 years.

He said: “My truck is basically my office. I had my tools in there, my documents, even my flask and my lunch box. It sounds silly, but you think of those little things that they’ve taken. I was really gutted.

“I have had to finsh the job I was on, and fortunately I was nearly done. Dave Tavner from Trademark Kitchens has lent me his van for this job which was extremely kind.

“People have been seeing me work and stopping to offer to lend tools. Many of them I don’t really know – I know them from being a tradesman around town, but I don’t know them properly and they’re offering to help.”

Matt has commended the police for their quick response when he first called.

“The police have been pretty good, and were here in 10 minutes. They had a scan of the area and got some CCTV in which you can just about see something.

“While they have been good, they can only do so much with the resources they have.

“People have been talking about whether we need the ‘Ring of Steel’ ANPR cameras up and running in Royston, and I think it can’t hurt – it’s better to have them than not.

“It’s probably too late for my tools in this situation, but the police need to do something to help other tradesmen as when tools get stolen it’s our livelihoods. Soon it’ll be March then April, and that’s when things start getting busy for me and I’ll need new equipment.”

Matt – who is married to PA Tina – doesn’t know if his van insurer will pay out because the keys were in the truck, but has told them that he was coerced into leaving the area.

He said: “If anyone has information please go to the police. The last few days I’ve been looking at every van, wondering if they were the ones who have done this – who are stealing people’s livelihoods. It’s just wrong.”

Police are appealing for anyone with information to come forward. The first offender is described by police as as a white man, of medium build, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s. He had short, dark hair and was wearing dark-coloured shoes, dark-coloured tracksuit trousers and a green jacket.

He left the scene in a Citroen Berlingo van with blue sign writing on the side.

The man who took the Transit is described as a white, of slim build, and also thought to be in his late teens or early 20s. He also had short, dark hair and was wearing a dark-coloured jacket.

If you have information, call 101 quoting crime reference G4/18/124.

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