‘Thugs stole my life’s work in one night’
A business owner in Batley is offering a £10,000 reward for information that could lead to the return of 23 boat engines, stolen from his workplace in a ‘life-changing robbery’ last week.
69-year-old Sam Al-Kazhraji, arrived at his workshop, off Brookroyd Lane, on Thursday 15th January to find his property had been targeted by thieves.
The previous evening, a gang of robbers had used the site’s own forklift truck, to load goods onto the back of a lorry before driving them to an unknown location.
Mr Al-Kazhraji, who owns West End Marine Ltd, said he could not believe it when he drove into the yard the following morning and saw the business had been robbed.
“At around 8am we came up to the gates and you could see that they had been forced open,” he said.
“I drove into the yard and then saw the roller shutter was open for the warehouse and a fork lift truck was in the yard which was very unusual.
“It wasn’t until we inspected the building that we saw the extent of what had been taken. After that I felt sick all day.
“All my staff have families and this is going to affect us all. If I lose my livelihood due to this burglary, the whole staff will lose there’s too.
“I have worked my whole life to build this business up and these thugs came in one night and just took it all away.”
As the business was still in the process of moving into the new site at the time of the burglary, the premises were still uninsured as a new alarm system had not yet been fitted.
This has severely impacted the company’s operations and running costs, leading Mr Kazhraji to offer the substantial reward to anyone that can help find those responsible.
“The £10,000 reward is very serious,” he said.
“It is offered to anyone who can help trace the people responsible for the burglary and hopefully help return some of the stolen goods.”
The father-of-three adds that he has not been able to sleep since the theft and believes that the robbery was a ‘targeted’ one.
“It was definitely a planned operation with military precision,” he said. “They took all the most expensive engines, propellers, starter motors and alternators.
“The police agree that whoever did it had planned it for a long time beforehand. They even had an escape plan if they had been caught on the night, as the back lock had also been broken off.”
The vehicle used in the robbery is believed to have been a 7.5tonne lorry with engines on the back.
Mr Al-Kazhraji says it must have made more than one trip between the yard in Batley and wherever the engines were taken as the number of stolen goods weighed too much for one trip.
Due to this, it is believed the lorry will not have been able to travel more than a 30 minute distance from the site on that night, with the full incident taking place between 10pm and midnight.
The most expensive model of engine taken was the Volvo D-9 (pictured above) which can be noticed by its white appearance, around one-and-a-half metres long, and was wrapped in polythene. Other designs include: Yamaha, Volvo, Caterpillar, Iveco and Perkins.
Det Insp Stef Wiseman, of Kirklees CID, said: “We don’t believe this was a random burglary. The engines are worth a lot of money and we believe the establishment was targeted because of what was in the premises.
“I would appeal to anyone who witnessed any suspicious activity in the area on that night to get in contact. I would also appeal to anyone with an interest in boats to be on the lookout too.
“If you are offered a boat engine or engines for sale in a deal that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”
If you have any information about the robbery please contact the CID on 101.