Brazen thieves moved a five-tonne forklift and used the owner’s own tools to break into an Aberdeen barn and steal an ‘immaculate’ WW2-era jeep worth around £30,000.
Willie Ellis has spent thousands doing up the Willys jeep, describing it as his “pride and joy”.
But the 63-year-old was ‘absolutely gutted’ to discover criminals had stolen the historic vehicle while he was away on holiday.
The Aberdeenshire plant manager has now offered a reward of £1,000 for the safe return of the vehicle, which has been spotted hundreds of miles away in Nottinghamshire.
Willie said: “I’m just absolutely gutted. I didn’t find out until the Friday because we’d been staying in a caravan.
“It was the landlord that found my doors open and knew there was something missing.
“I’m just gutted. I don’t know what’s happened to it. Somebody said they saw the jeep on the back of a trailer at Newark last night. The ports have been advised about it.”
To gain access to the vehicle, which was in a locked barn, thieves had to shift a five-tonne forklift truck, before burning through the locks with Willie’s own oxy-acetylene torch.
He said: “They pushed away a forklift truck which was blocking it in.
“A five-tonne forklift backed across the doors. I had the batteries out of it so I don’t know how they managed to move the thing.
“And they used my oxy-acetylene gear to get the doors open – they just burnt the locks off.”
Willie has researched his vehicle’s history and can even tell when it came off the production line in 1944.
The Willys MB was a workhouse of the allied forces during World War Two, with President Eisenhower once calling it “one of three decisive weapons the US had”.
Vehicles in the same condition as this one can sell for up to £30,000.
Willie said: “I’ve had it for maybe 15, 20 years. I’ve just been doing it up over the years and it’s just immaculate condition
“When I bought it, it was just a wreck. It was my pride and joy.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “We received a report of a break-in to a shed at Swellhead Farm, Blairs, Aberdeen on Thursday, August 27.
“The break-in is believed to have happened between Tuesday August 25 and Thursday 27 August at 12pm and a number of items were stolen including a World War Two jeep.
“Anyone with any information about the incident should contact Police Scotland on 101 quoting incident number 3499 of August 27.”