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Raiders hit Sussex golf clubs
Sussex golf clubs have been told to clear their clubhouses of trophies after a string of break-ins in which tens of thousands of pounds of silverware were stolen.
Four clubs in Sussex and two over the border in Surrey have been targeted by what appears to be a professional gang.
In total some 55 trophies, worth in the region of £85,000, are still missing in Sussex.
Seaford Golf Club, which was the first in the county to be hit, had 20 trophies dating back to the mid-1800s stolen.
General manager of the club Lawrence Dennis-Smither said: “That is part of the club’s history we will never get back. We are devastated and this is going to take a long time to get over.”
A trophy dating back to 1862 was taken along with around 20 others thought to be worth in the region of £40,000.
Following the Seaford break-in on September 15, the secretary of the Sussex County Golf Union sent an urgent plea to all clubs asking them to take extra precautions.
Secretary Anup Vasant said: “It’s a shame that this history can’t be on show in the clubhouse but we’ve told clubs to remove trophies from display and store them securely.
“Some of these are over a hundred years old so it’s not worth taking the risk.”
Waterhall Golf Club, just outside Brighton, was the next on September 19 followed by West Sussex Golf Club on October 7.
More than 20 trophies were taken from the Pulborough club with a spokesman saying that they had probably been melted down.
Waterhall was hit a second time on October 15 before nearby Dyke Golf Club on Devils Dyke Road became the latest victim.
Just after 8.30pm on the Sunday evening two men in balaclavas smashed through the patio doors with a baseball bat before heading straight for the trophy cabinet.
In just four minutes they had left with ten to 15 trophies thought to be worth around £4,000 to £5,000.
Club chairman, Niall MacCabe, said: “We were lucky because we had heard what had happened in Seaford and moved our really valuable trophies out.
“It appears to be a fairly professional group. They were in and out so quickly that they must have done their research.
“We found some of the less valuable trophies floating down the Adur, so they knew what they were looking for and what was valuable.
"It’s sad really. That is a part of the club’s history gone forever.”
There have also been reports of at least two similar break-ins at clubs in neighbouring Surrey.
A Sussex Police spokesman said: “We always remind managers of clubs and sports facilities to continue to take common sense crime prevention precautions and to report and suspicious activity to police immediately on 101.”