Worried allotment holders are clearing their sheds of tools and equipment after thieves carried out a raid of high-value items.
Gardeners were devastated when they discovered the theft at the Leicester Road allotments in Uppingham on Tuesday morning.
Thieves had driven across the site and broken into about a dozen sheds, stealing tools, lawn mowers and other valuable equipment.
One of the sheds is used by Richard Ellis, who is in the process of setting up social enterprise Uppingham Grows. He wanted to do some good for the community and get people out in the fresh air, but his plans have now suffered a setback.
On Tuesday he said: “I was half way through setting it up. The equipment has been stored in the shed.
“But what appears to have happened last night is a van has come in across the fields, people have broken into my shed and stolen pretty much everything of value.
“They took a lawn mower worth about £200. It’s critical to my operation.
“People are having to move all their gear off site in case there is another attack.”
Mr Ellis said the thieves had not just affected the lives of the allotment holders.
“These people have done this to what is clearly a local social enterprise,” he added. “The sign is right up on the side of the shed.”
The allotment holders are a close community and are trying to stay positive after the theft.
Mr Ellis said: “Most of us are angry. But we are determined to push ahead and not waste too much energy on the thieves.”
Police are investigating the theft but Mr Ellis hopes allotment holders will stay vigilant in case of another raid. He said: “I just want people to be on their guard.”
The allotments are owned by Uppingham Town Council. A spokesman said: “The council takes this matter very seriously and it will be raised at a future council meeting.”
Witnesses to the theft should call 101 quoting crime number NR/01251/154.