Disgust and sadness as Ottery St Mary community project repeatedly targeted by thieves

RIO has suffered series of break-ins

RIO has suffered series of break-ins - Credit: Archant

RIO has suffered three recent break-ins

The director of a community project that ploughs profit back into local causes has spoken of her disgust at being repeatedly targeted by thieves.

Recycling in Ottery (RIO) has suffered three recent break-ins, with the latest incident occurring on Wednesday night (May 11) and another over the recent May bank holiday weekend.

Offenders forced their way into a secure storage unit, cut through the padlock, ransacked the site and stole two vintage bikes – one of which was later found discarded in the river.

The break-ins have left staff and volunteers at the Exeter Road site shaken and saddened that people would target an organisation that has operated for more than 20 years for the benefit of people in the town.

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One of the directors, Caroline Harris, said: “They opened suitcases and tipped everything out – they just ransacked it. It was just the secure storage area, but it looks like they had a go at the office. Each time, someone has had to come in the following day and face the carnage left behind.

“It not only makes more work, as we have to clear up all the mess they have made, it also costs us. RIO is a re-use centre and any profits made at the end of the year will go back into the community. RIO is here for Ottery, it’s a community resource and a non-profit-making company, so it’s upsetting that it would be targeted in this way. The whole ethos of the place is based on trust. We do not know where this is going to end or whether they are going to come in and do even more damage.”

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Caroline explained it is hard to know the full extent of the losses, because all items are donated, but the bikes alone were worth a fair amount. The management team now intends to install further security measures to deter any more break-ins.

RIO has a core team of staff, but relies on volunteers to do much of the work, which includes collecting and sorting donations, selling on recycled items, running free workshops and offering support to other groups.

It is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes recycling and has donated profits to many causes, including Ottery Skate Park. More information about RIO’s work is available via: www.recyclinginottery.com.

Police are appealing for information from anyone who may have seen or heard anything related to the break-ins. Contact the force by calling 101 and quoting crime reference: CR: 026426-16.

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