Weston carpenter’s baby joy turns to despair after discovering £20k theft

PUBLISHED: 18:00 08 February 2018

Ryan Harman-Taylor and PC Alice Durston. Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Ryan Harman-Taylor and PC Alice Durston. Picture: Avon and Somerset Constabulary

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A Weston-super-Mare tradesman who had almost £20,000 worth of tools stolen while his wife was in labour has had his equipment returned.

Self-employed carpenter Ryan Harman-Taylor, aged 31, was on ‘cloud nine’ when his wife gave birth to his second child, a baby girl, only to be plunged into a ‘hellish situation’ a day later when he learned his van had been ransacked while greeting the arrival of the little one.

A range of ‘high-value tools’ had been left in the van as Ryan hastily joined his wife in hospital, and thief broke in and stole the tradesman’s means of earning a living, leaving him ‘worried his family’s future’ and £19,000 out of pocket.

But after a police investigation, officers located tools in Rickwood’s shed and returned them to their rightful owner.

Ryan, of RHT Carpentry, has spoken of how joy turned to despair when he informed his wife of the theft, in addition to the ‘embarrassment’ of being unable to fulfil his work commitments.

He said: “Just a day before I was on cloud nine after the arrival of my new baby girl, then suddenly I was in this hellish situation.

“Around £19,000 worth of equipment was taken. When I collected my wife from the hospital I didn’t want to worry her, but I knew I couldn’t lie.

“She was devastated; all the joy we had the day before was gone and we were left with worry about our family’s future.

“I’m self-employed and I’ve worked very hard to build my business up. It wasn’t just about the financial loss for us, my customers are people I’ve worked with for years and I felt embarrassed I couldn’t provide them with the good service they deserved.”

He was provided a lifeline when he saw on social media Avon and Somerset Constabulary had recovered a large haul of stolen power tools, and invited wronged tradesmen to visit the station in a bid to reunite kit with owners.

Four people had their tools returned, but Ryan was unsuccessful and all seemed lost, until he saw an advertisement on Facebook offering one of his tools for £60.

He said: “I looked closely at the picture and recognised it straight away. It was a grinder gifted to me on the completion of my apprenticeship when I was 18 years old.

Convinced it was his, he contacted neighbourhood PC Alice Durston.

She said: “We went along to the address and found a large number of power tools in the shed.

“We let Ryan know we had found another haul of power tools and he obtained photographic proof of his tools and we dropped his tools off.

“He was very happy and we were glad we could help.”

Ryan is delighted to be back in business, and he thanked the police for their efforts.

He concluded: “I’m just so glad I got my tools back, they represent a big part of my life and some of them have been with me from the very start of my career.

“I’d like to say a big thanks to the police for their help and for keep our community safe.”

A 33-year-old man was convicted of stealing power tools at North Somerset Courthouse on January 24 and January 29.

He admitted two counts of theft from motor vehicles and eight counts of handling stolen property, but was spared jail. He was handed a 58-week suspended sentence.

A police spokesman said: “Ten victims have been identified and more than 30 items returned to their owners.

“The police are continuing to find owners of the remaining tools.

“A 25-year-old woman, who was also arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, as part of the same police investigation has been released under investigation.”

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