Grateful RAF Air Cadets were re-united with their stolen catering trailer just days after it was stolen – thanks to some dogged detective work by a local police officer.
The trailer, which provides a significant source of income for 1803 Hucknall Squadron, was reported stolen on Saturday 17 April after it was found to be missing from the Unit’s compound in Watnall Road.
Members of the Ashfield Neighbourhood Policing team immediately began an investigation and soon had their first lead – a positive hit for the trailer’s number plate on a local automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera.
Also visible was a small section of the vehicle towing the trailer – including part of its number plate.
With only those two things at his disposal PC Jonathan Oldham was able to positively identify the vehicle and cross reference it with local records.
As a result the trailer was later recovered in Jacksdale and has now been returned to the grateful cadets.
A 31-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft and has since been released under investigation.
Commanding Officer, Pilot Officer Liam Vernon said: “Our squadron is also a charity, and we use this trailer to generate a significant portion of our fundraised income. It’s already been a tough year so losing our trailer before the busy summer season would really have been a massive blow for us.
“When I first realised it was missing I just felt so angry at the audacity of it all.
“This is clearly an item belonging to a youth organisation helping young people develop and learn new skills, but somebody still broke in and stole it all the same. Altogether we had around £4,000 invested in it and that would have been a huge hit for us to take if we’d not been able to get it back.
“However, I had pretty much given up hope that we would ever see it again. It could have been missing for up to three days by the time we realised it had gone and in that time I knew it may have been stripped down and sold on.
“On the face of it was an undetectable theft and I didn’t even expect a police visit. So, for an officer to come out in person almost immediately was really quite impressive. It was clear that this mattered to him and that he wanted to help us.
“But what impressed me most was that he didn’t just take a statement – he immediately went away and conducted some really proactive local enquiries. Without that effort there really is no way we would every have got it back. So, on behalf of everyone at 1803 Squadron I want to place on record our thanks to Nottinghamshire Police.”
PC Oldham, who has worked on the Ashfield response team for three years, said: “For me this is what being a police officer is all about – helping people who need our support and getting justice for victims.
“I am aware of the great work the Air Cadets do with young people in our community so when I heard this item had been stolen I was absolutely determined to do all I could to get it back.
“As it turned out we had luck on our side and very quickly got the lead that took us to the trailer. I am delighted for the cadets and all the adult volunteers who do such a great job.”
The RAF Air Cadets have squadrons across Nottinghamshire and provide training, new skills and activities for young people between the ages of 12-20.
The Adult Instructors are drawn from all types of backgrounds and are volunteers, giving their time and experience to support the organisation, which also includes a number of our police officers and staff.
The RAF Air Cadets are currently recruiting for both Cadets and new Adult Volunteers, with squadrons in most towns. Further information can be found at www.raf.mod.uk/aircadets