THE victim of a burglary is warning residents to be vigilant after crooks raided his garage and stole bikes and equipment worth more than £30,000.

Burglars are believed to have broken into the property, which is located on an estate off Colchester Road, Halstead, in the early hours.

Once inside, they stole four bikes, spare wheels and dozens of tools before fleeing the scene.

The victim, who the Gazette agreed not to name, says he was left in shock after he discovered the break-in.

He said: “The bikes were part of a personal collection which I have built up over the years. I’ve been all over the world collecting parts so I am gutted to have lost them.

“Bikes are not like a car. You can’t just go and buy a new one because they’re more specific to a person.

“I’ll get about £5,000 back from the house insurance but that is nothing compared to how much I’ve lost.

“The bikes weren’t insured because it would have cost me £4,000 a year which isn’t worth it.

“You always think it’ll never happen to you.”

The victim admits he is unlikely to see his prized possessions again and thinks they will probably be taken out of the country to be sold off.

He has issued a warning to other residents in Halstead to be vigilant and urged people to ensure their property is secure.

He added: “This wasn’t planned or anything like that – it was just opportunistic thieves.

“They know there is no police station in Halstead and it takes police about eight minutes to respond from Braintree.

“These people go around casing areas and then just randomly try places they think might have something of worth.

“They struck gold with my property.

“I think they’re going around ticking off properties in the area at the moment so my message to people would be, please make sure your garage is secured properly and always locked up.

“Security is so important, especially if you store anything in your garage.”

Essex Police have said they are investigating the break-in.

A spokesman added: "Contact was made with the victim to November 20 regarding progressing the investigation and collecting CCTV.

"Any witnesses are asked to contact Pc Georgina Hook at Braintree police station on 101 quoting crime reference 42/180608/19."