THE owner of a JCB that was stolen and driven for four miles before being written off has spoken of his anger over the financial loss to his business.
Mark Dayment, 34, owns Langaton, the steel fabrication company based in North Road in South Molton, where the JCB was parked.
It was written off by Mr Dayment's insurance company after the theft.
He received a £7,000 payout, meaning he was left to fork out the remaining £8,000 for a new JCB.
In addition, there was damage caused to his wall when the JCB was driven out on to the road.
Mr Dayment said: "I have had to finance it myself. It has come out of the business. I could not afford to buy it outright.
"I have got no problem getting finance but it is the principle of going round looking at machines when I could be earning money for the business."
"It is all money I do not want to spend. I am not a miserable person, but why steal something like this?
"It is not like I left it outside with a note on it saying 'please take me'.
"If he had got it back to Barnstaple what would he have done with it?"
Mr Dayment said the JCB could have caused serious harm to the public.
He said he first realised something was wrong after receiving a call from his father to say he had seen the JCB being driven erratically.
"Things started going round my head," he said.
"I had visions of someone stealing it. I knew something was not right. I got a bit worried so I raced home and saw the damage to the yard."
After driving around the town unable to find the JCB, Mr Dayment eventually rang 999 and within 20 minutes he was contacted by the police to say the vehicle had been involved in an incident.