Hollesley: Break-in at open prison sees thief steal £3,000 worth of tobacco due to be sold to prisoners
08:00 28 June 2014
Over the years Hollesley Bay open prison has come under fire for its relaxed approach and even been dubbed ‘Holiday Bay’.
The jail has also been criticised over the number of prisoners who have walked out and failed to return.
Some of those escapees have alleged the availability of drugs inside the prison, or a bullying culture by other inmates, have driven them to leave.
On one occasion a recaptured absconder even claimed in court that he had seen women in the jail who appeared to have stayed overnight – an allegation strongly denied by the Prison Service.
However, now Hollesley Bay has now become a victim of crime in its own right after tobacco worth an estimated £3,000 which was due to go on sale to prisoners was stolen.
Up to 300 packets of tobacco were reported to have been taken from the jail’s main storeroom during the overnight raid.
It is understood an imprint of a training shoe was found near the scene, although as yet the thief has not been found. Nor it appears has the tobacco.
The culprit is thought to have broken in by getting through a skylight on the roof and then removing a ceiling tile to gain entry to the storeroom.
Tobacco is understood to be kept under lock and key within the secure area.
However, when the theft took place a number of pallets containing the tobacco were said to have been outside the locked area.
As yet no one has been arrested for the theft and the tobacco has not been found.
The theft occurred between 4.30pm on Monday, June 16 and 8am on Tuesday, June 17.
Suffolk police have confirmed it received a report that the prison’s main storeroom had been burgled.
A spokeswoman said it was originally stated that after the room was broken into up to 300 packets of tobacco were taken.
An approximate value of £3,000 was put on the goods.
The spokeswoman added that at the time the figures given were estimates as no stock check had been undertaken by that stage.
It is understood the theft caused some concern about what the inmates’ reaction would be if they had to go without their tobacco.
Moves were made to replace the stock with options such as getting it from another prison or officers being sent out to purchase more.
Last year thieves broke into a prison near Bristol twice, stealing thousands of pounds worth of tobacco products.
During the first raid, tobacco worth £25,000 was taken from a courier depot at HMP Leyhill in April.
In October thieves took £10,000 of tobacco during a ram raid while staff were “responding to a fire alarm”.
At the time a police spokesman confirmed the Gloucestershire prison had “reported damage caused by a vehicle driving through metal barriers and colliding with a building at HMP Leyhill”.