BOWLERS are shocked and angry after thieves made a bungled attempt to try and steal their green.

Players from the Highworth Bowls Club were aghast when they arrived at the green, in Swindon Road, Highworth, on Monday to find part of it had been cut and rolled up.

They reported it to police, but officers have yet to inspect the damage.

However, members have vowed to continue playing on the remaining two rinks for league games while the damage is being restored by maintenance contractors.

Greenkeeper Kevin Carter said players were upset by the damage and it could have been worse had the turf not been too dry.

“This goes beyond vandalism and it looks like they’ve tried to steal the lawn – everyone is so upset,” he said.

“They’ve rolled it up and when they realised it was too dry and it would not roll, they’ve given up. If it had worked it would have all gone.

“They must have come between 10pm on Sunday, when the clubhouse closed, and 8am on Monday. We reported it to police but no-one has been out yet, which is disappointing.

“The maintenance people started to lay new soil yesterday but we don’t know the full financial value of the damage yet.

“We have some big matches coming up and we are having to play with just two rinks, which is not ideal.”

The club has insurance and is hoping the costs – at least £1,000 for just the repairs – will be met by the firm.

Club secretary Chris Hidden said: “Hopefully the costs will be met by the insurance but this will impact our club for most of the season.

“The thing is bowling green turf is not suitable for gardens and that is the only reason I can think of for why someone may have tried to pinch it. I just cannot understand the mentality of the people who would do that.”

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We can confirm that on May 28 we received a report of an attempted theft of the turf on the bowling green in Highworth.

“CCTV coverage of the area was checked as was the possibility of forensic evidence, however no new lines of enquiry have been established.

“We are therefore appealing for help from the public and are keen to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time and may have seen or heard anything suspicious.”

Anyone with information should contact Wiltshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers, where information can be left anonymously if prefered, on 0800 555 111.