Thieves stole 28,500 bricks after breaking into a Swindon site.

The crooks used an lorry to escape with the £12,500 haul, after bolt cropping the heavy-duty security chain on the entrance gate.

Site manager Liam Hughes discovered the theft and spoke of his incredulity after raiders lifted the close to 30,000 bricks from the New Dawn Homes development site.

“It’s amazing really that they think they can get away with it,” said Liam.

“It’s like an industrial operation.”

Liam said he believed the thieves came on three separate occasions.

“They were stolen on the Saturday morning. One load at least,” said Liam.

“For someone to rock up in a lorry and do this, they’ve got to be pretty brave,” he added.

Angela Hughes, managing director of Cheltenham-based New Dawn said: “It’s unbelievable. I don’t know anyone who has had this number of bricks stolen.

“We always have all our bricks delivered prior to any development starting, and this has never happened before.

“It’s a very worrying new trend, that someone thinks they can go around in this sort of vehicle and evade the police,” Angela added.

The haul is a rare type of buff brick, distinctively pale, which require ordering four months in advance.

Liam said boilers had been taken before but nothing on this scale.

“Unless they’ve stolen the amount of bricks they need to build whatever they want to build, it’s going to be hard for them to get hold of anymore,” he added.

“If they turn round to the brick supplier and say we need some more bricks, they’re going to say well you haven’t had any bricks at all in the first place, because they’re not going to be a customer,” said Liam.

The thieves wrapped the chain and intact padlock back around the gate after each visit, making it look like it was still locked.

Liam said: “I came in to go into the shipping container and the gate was locked as far as I was aware. I came up, opened the gate and just went in as normal.”

It was only when Liam came back out to the gate that he pulled the chain off and some chain links fell to the floor.

His initial thought was that someone had come in to fly-tip rubbish, and began looking around the site.

“It was then that I looked and saw the marks on the ground where the bricks were,” Liam added.

Building for the 61-home development was due to start on September 9.

“We literally had all the people we were going to employ ready to start work,” said Angela.

“There are a lot of hardworking people who have now lost their jobs – it’s just not fair.”

Building for the houses will still go ahead once new bricks have been obtained.

“We’re determined to provide some quality new houses, and determined to not let these thieves thwart the development of this industrial site into very much needed new homes in area,” said Angela.

The raiders used a lorry with a green cab and a purple/red crane.

Police are investigating the theft of the 40 pallets of bricks from the site in Shrivenham Road, between July 23 and September 9.

Anyone with information should call 101.