Top Scottish dog racing team's 'distinguishable' Transit van stolen in West Lothian
The van has a distinctive paw-print wrap and logo emblazoned across it.
A top Scottish dog racing team has been left counting the cost after a £20,000 raid on their specially adapted van.
The Flying Scots - who compete across the UK in dog trials - lost valuable equipment when the distinctive Ford Transit van was stolen in the early hours of Sunday from a communal car park in Dedridge.
The van - which has a distinctive paw-print wrap and logo emblazoned across it - contained equipment valued at up to £20,000 and has left the team fighting for their future in the sport.
Flying Dogs member Lynn Bradley, 51, from Livingston - who is also on the UK Flyball League committee - said: “The van was still there at 2am on Sunday morning. My sister discovered it had gone when she had gone to load the dogs into it for practice at around 10am.
“It is devastating as the equipment had only just been loaded into the van the night before. What is in the van will mean very little to whoever stole it but it now means that we face the prospect of having to cancel our upcoming competitions in the new year.
“Whoever stole the van cannot have got far without filling up on diesel at one of the nearby petrol stations as it was left nearly empty upon returning from a competition last week.”
She added: “The van is very distinguishable as it has a unique paw print sticker as well as chrome finishings, a distinct sun visor and black fly screen.”
The equipment inside the van included a number of dog cages, ten rolls of tuff spin roll matting which each cost £400, lights, an electronic timing system worth £6,000 as well as bedding and several leashes.
Flyball competitions in Scotland will not be able to go ahead without the return of the equipment or until replacements are supplied to the team.
Lynn believed that the van may have been the latest victim of a spate of vehicle thefts that have occurred in the past six months in the Dedridge community. It also followed the theft of five Ford Transits in West Lothian in a number of days.
The van belonged to her sister, Hazel Galloway, 48 - with the theft being just the latest spate of bad luck to befall the family.
A caravan that they use to stay in for competitions was also written off earlier this month and a close relative suffered injuries in a motorbike accident.
Lynn added: “It has just been a horrible time for us as a family with things breaking down, being stolen or people getting hurt. I feel for the Flyball community in Scotland as it will be the owners and dogs that suffer.
“Our team is not only made up of competitors but also dogs who are from a rescue background. The sessions help them to come out of their shell and socialise with others. You really cannot put a value on the damage caused.”
The Flying Scots team also contains members of the UK Crufts team and it is believed that their preparations for next year’s tournament could be thrown into question.
A statement from Police Scotland, said: “Police were called around 10.25 am on Sunday 15 Dec 2019, following the theft of a white van from a communal car park on Norman Rise, Dedridge, Livingston. Enquiries are continuing.”
It is feared the Flying Scots’ van may have been taken by a gang that has stolen five Transits since December 7.