THE owner of a specialist fishing reel-making firm is appealing for assistance in trying to catch the scumbag thieves who raided his factory.

Garry Mills of Mill Tackle Engineering in Studley, Warwickshire, arrived at work very early to finish an order for hand-crafted centrepin reels and found 23 missing along with other unique kit.

The 53-year-old, who used to work for J.W Young & Sons, explained: “I arrived at 5.30am to put the finishing touches on the reels and get them ready for shipping out and saw the shutters were only half closed and my heart sank.

“The reels were the bulk of an order for Perfection Angling in Southampton and were incomplete without their reel seats so are unusable as they are, but actually retail at £475 each.

“Each one is engraved with the name of the company that had ordered them, and carry a serial number from 01 to 23.

“Apart from that they took some modern carbon rods, other reels, some of them antique as I deal in vintage tackle at trade fairs, and a tackle box.

“One item I am particularly upset about losing is a prototype closed faced Atom reel presented to me when I left JW Youngs which never went into production and is unique and irreplaceable – I had been offered £1,500 for it.

“Another is a prototype split cane rod in a bag with the name Arrow on it, named after my local river. There were also a few Mitchell reels and Cardinals.

“The thieves tried first to break into a motorbike repair unit on our small industrial estate but moved onto us when they failed.

“We’ve got them on CCTV – we know they were wearing Adidas footwear and one of them had on an Adidas top but they were all wearing hoods.

“I set up this business in 2001 and I employed my son James in 2008 and now we have four people, and to be honest, losing these reels is going to hit us hard.

“We make about a 1,000 reels a year and have recently completed the final 25 of an order for 100 to be used for barbel fishing.

“I estimate the total loss at around £15,000 but won’t know what the insurance company will agree until I meet their assessor this week,” he added.

Garry believes the thieves were opportunists and is appealing for anyone who is offered such reels or other tackle items to get in touch with him or the police.

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