A £12,000 digger was stolen from Littlehampton Yacht Club in a dead-of-night ram-raid.
Angry club owner Robert Boyce said the three-tonne Komatsu Excavator, used to hoist boats in and out of the water, was taken on its own trailer shortly.
Mr Boyce said: “We did everything we possibly could to make sure that piece of equipment was safe, it was in a shed surrounded by CCTV and chained up.”
Mr Boyce claimed the thieves were captured on CCTV inside the shed shortly after 1am and were seen to move boat trailers to get to the digger, which was then hot-wired and driven onto its own trailer before being towed away.
He said the digger and trailer were in two separate areas and believed the thieves had carried out research. “They knew what they were doing and I strongly suspect they knew the area,” Mr Boyce said. “It just beggars belief that people can go to this sort of length to steal from a small club like this.”
He added members were ‘furious’ they had been deprived of the main way of getting their boats in and out of the water.
“They should not have to suffer because of these thugs,” said Mr Boyce. “I hope that they get caught and I hope that they serve a lengthy period of time in prison and that they suffer for it.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police confirmed the theft had been reported and added: “The incident is believed to have happened at the site in Rope Walk, Littlehampton, some time between 9pm on Tuesday, July 11, and 9am on Wednesday, July 12.
“Enquiries are ongoing, and anyone with any information is asked to report it online at https://sussex.police.uk/appealresponse quoting serial 259 of 12/07.”