FED-UP traders on a Canvey industrial estate say they feel powerless to stop crooks raiding their businesses late at night.

Thieves have been ransacking units on Charfleets Industrial Estate, stealing hundreds of pounds worth of goods in the past fewmonths.

Businesses say raiders are even tearing down fencing to create makeshift bridges over the surrounding dyke off Roscommon Way to get to the estate.

They claim the problem has escalated since the new Roscommon Way extension was built, which makes it easier to get to the back of the site.

The loss of streetlighting has also added to the problems.

Stephen Dennington, owner of Castle Contracts, in Koln Close, Canvey, said: “We have all been broken into at some point, unfortunately. I think everyone has lost faith in reporting it to police because there’s not much they can do.

“It’s got to the stage where you just go in and the first thing you do is check to see if your locks have been cut.

“I work from home now because I can’t leave computers or anything down there as I know they won’t be there in the morning.

“I got burgled four months ago and they completely ransacked the place and got awaywith £800 of stuff. They’re so crafty, they build bridges over the dyke, they break the fences, they knowwhat they’re doing because they wait for you to leave and bring tools with them to get the job done.

“The trouble is we are all small businesses so when they do nick something it could be bad enough to put you out of business.”

Kim Moore, owner of The Garage, in Arjan Way, said burglars even stole a breakdown recovery lorry and drove it into the dyke to cross the stream.

He said: “It’s happening more and more and since they built the new road.

No one reports it to the police because they’re just not interested.”

Another business owner, who did not want to be named, said he estimated there has been about 40 burglaries on the estate in the past few months.

The 42-year-old man said: “I’ve got CCTV, infra-red cameras, security locks and doors – it doesn’t make a difference.

They still managed to break into one of my vehicles and I had to pay for the damage.

“Now the street lights are out it’s going to get worse.”

CASTLE Point’s district inspector said the only way police can help catch the crooks involved is if people tell them what’s going on on the estate.

Insp Chris Wood said since January only two incidents have been reported.

He said: “This area is patrolled by officers, but we have to manage it with our other demands.

“The fact there is another entrance into Charfleets does potentially cause more problems, but there is not much we can do about that as the road is for industrial purposes to encourage heavy vehicles to use Roscommon Way.

“I know people think the police won’t be able to catch these people, but I must impress upon people that unless they report things to us we can’t respond.”