THIEVES have left a small Borders business struggling to survive after a raid on valuable equipment.

Selkirk tree surgery company Stihl Game, of Rodgers Road, was targeted last Thursday evening alongside neighbouring firm Oakwood Tree Care.

Stihl Game owner Nathan Mill, 20, told the Border Telegraph that the financial blow of the crime could prove “the end for a small business like us”.

“To say the least, it’s horrible to have a small business stung like this,” said Mr Mill, who runs the company with his father Nick, 52.

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The pair, who have been forced to halt trading, are now offering a £5,000 reward to anyone who has information which helps the police track down the culprits. Officers say enquiries are ongoing.

The thieves struck on December 3, after the businesses had locked up for the day at 4.30pm.

The first sign of something odd was when Oakwood Tree Care boss Bill Hogarth received a phone call at 7pm from a concerned dog-walker who said Mr Hogarth’s premises were unlocked.

Border Telegraph: Nathan Mill and fellow businessman Bill Hogarth, who have both been targeted by thieves. Photo: Helen BarringtonNathan Mill and fellow businessman Bill Hogarth, who have both been targeted by thieves. Photo: Helen Barrington

“I knew right away from the gates being wide open that I had been robbed,” Mr Hogarth, 56, said.

“I’m flipping gutted. In the 20 years I’ve been in this yard I’ve never had any trouble.”

The thieves had taken Mr Hogarth’s Timberwolf wood chipper, worth between £2,500 and £4,000.

Meanwhile, Stihl Game suffered the loss of 16 chainsaws, two hedge trimmers and two leaf blowers. Mr Mill estimates they were worth more than £9,000 in total.

He believes four men in a light blue Skoda Octavia were responsible.

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Having seen them behave in a suspicious manner near the yard earlier in the day, Mr Mill later viewed CCTV footage showing them with the wood chipper.

“We’ve got footage of them driving up The Green at 5.52pm with the chipper on the back,” said Mr Mill.

He now wants to see the men arrested and the equipment returned.

“If we don’t get the equipment back, there’s a possibility we’ll pack up,” said Mr Mill.

“The business means absolutely everything to me,” he added, saying his trade “feels more like a hobby” because of the enjoyment it brings.