A Hassocks pet centre owner has been left devastated after his ‘precious’ car which he used to rescue animals was stolen on Christmas Eve.
Steve Edgington, 66, who owns Hassocks Pet Centre in Keymer Road, said he left his Land Rover Freelander parked at the back of his shop but when he came into work on Christmas Eve it was ‘gone’.
He said: “I have used the Freelander for 16 years to rescue wild animals, all types of wild animals, deer, badgers, foxes. When I came in on Christmas Eve it was just gone. There was no broken glass or anything and it was locked. I phoned the police straight away.
“It was very precious to me and I am devastated and shocked that someone could actually come to the back of my shop and steal it. It certainly ruined my Christmas.”
Steve said all of his rescue equipment was also in the car. He said he has another vehicle to use but the Freelander was ideal for rescuing animals.
“Everyone knows it because it has a picture of a fox on it,” he added.
“It is not a new vehicle, it is only worth £1,500, but she was such a good reliable car. I don’t know why someone would want to steal it when there are brand new cars around.
"When you have had something that long you get attached to it, but why her? They just took her because they can. It is heartbreaking.”
Steve said he feels ‘let down’ and fears for the village which is ‘becoming horrendous’. He said: “There seems to be so much going on in the area – houses, cars and garages being broken into.
“It is a shock, it is a quiet village, but there are no police patrols. Hassocks is getting like London – it is becoming horrendous.
“The shop has an alarm – what else can I do? The shop is my life, I work seven days a week, my life is with my animals."
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We received a report at 6.38am on Monday, December 24, of a Land Rover being stolen from Keymer Road, Hassocks.
“The car is believed to have been stolen overnight of Sunday, December 23, and Monday morning, December 24. If anyone has information or witnessed any suspicious behaviour in this area please call 101 quoting 150 of 24/12.”