Dunmow electrician has stolen tools returned after Irish police recover haul of loot

Tobias West of Butler & West electricians, in Dunmow, with his returned tools. Picture: JORDAN BRIGH

Tobias West of Butler & West electricians, in Dunmow, with his returned tools. Picture: JORDAN BRIGHT - Credit: Archant

It involved Interpol, quick-action from police officers in southern Ireland and more than 35,000 shares on Facebook – but eight months after a Dunmow electrician had his van broken into, some of his stolen tools have been returned.

For him, this was a happy ending Christmas story.

In April Tobias West, owner of electrical contractors Butler and West, had his van parked on his drive in Dunmow.

Overnight, thieves who were caught on CCTV, took just a few seconds to break into the van and in ten minutes made off with some £3,000 worth of tools.

They also did about £400 damage to the van during the break-in.

Mr West said: “They drilled the side door to overcome the slam lock we’d had installed after another van was broken into six months earlier in Sible Hedingham.

“They drilled a hole in the side and managed to open the door in ten seconds, they were gone within ten minutes.”

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Mr West thought that would be the last he would see of his power tools.

But three weeks later one Sunday morning, he had a call from police in Cork.

“They had found a shipping container full of tools, it was quite a haul and some were marked Butler and West.

“We mark the tools so that we know which ones are ours on building sites.

“We also know the serial numbers which I was able to send the police.

“They were phenomenal.”

It took until December to get the tools repatriated, via Devon and Cornwall Police.

Only about £1,500 worth came back but that included a tester worth £1,000.

Meanwhile Mr West, who owns the firm with his wife, Sofie, had shared a CCTV image of the thieves breaking into the van on Facebook.

The family man and father of three, said: “We want to thank all of the 283 people who shared our original post and also inform the more than 35,000 people who’d seen the post what a good job the police do.

“The tools represent our livelihood and caused a massive blow to our trust, cash flow and productivity.

“Having them returned really has help restore our faith in humanity and the judicial system.”