BURGLARS stole thousands of pounds of machinery in a targeted attack which saw them cut through a roof and 'avoid sensors by crawling on their hands and knees'.

The gang broke into Andover Garden Machinery, in Salisbury Road, at about 9pm on Tuesday (April 9).

In three-and-a-half hours they took around £15,000 worth of tools, targeting top-of-the-range Stihl and Husqvarna brand power tools.

It is believed the burglars got onto the roof of the neighbouring garden centre, before walking across to reach the business.

The thieves took off the store’s metal roof, but only to find that it was boarded up and ripped up the timber.

A spokesperson for the store said: “They realised we had another roof and had to cut down four layers of felt then had to go through more timber.”

A hole was cut in the ceiling and the security footage shows the camera was moved to allow the burglars to carry out the crime.

“They were hooking it [the machinery] out and pulling it through the roof until they emptied that section. And all of the Stihl stuff was chained up and one climbed down and came in.”

The crook used a display chainsaw to break the restraints before passing the stock through the roof to other members of the gang.

“The gentleman then rolled around and went into the stockroom working at very low levels to miss all of our alarms and emptied all of that. They smashed the glass roof just to bring in light," the spokesperson added.

Not only did the gang steal stock, but they also took around 15 machines belonging to customers that had been bought in for repair.

To make their escape, the thieves were picked up in a car waiting at the garden centre, before it rammed down a fence and drove off into the nearby field.

The theft and damage was found by a member of staff who arrived at work at 7.45am yesterday (April 10) and saw smashed glass from the skylights.

When he entered back into the store he saw that the business’s Stihl and Husqvarna stock had been “cleared out”.

“We have an alarm system and CCTV, which we rewound to find out how they done it and what was what.”

Work has begun to tot up exactly what was stolen, with staff being pulled away from other jobs to help with the effort.

“We have got in excess of 450 machines and we have to go through everything. Over 50 per cent of the staff are psychically doing nothing for the day apart from stock take.”

The spokesperson added: “At the moment we have the areas cordoned off. We don’t have a chainsaw to sell anyone, it is physically going to be until the end of next week – they have totally wiped us out.”

The company has also had to spend around £2,000 on heightening its security to stop further incidents of this kind.

Following the break-in, the store posted a picture of one of the thieves on Facebook and have already been given information.