A Worcestershire farmer has told of his “terrifying” and violent ordeal fighting off four masked raiders with his wife.
Phil Richards was viciously attacked and had his Land Rover smashed up when he confronted the group as they tried to steal diesel from his farm near Clifton-upon-Teme.
The thieves tried to escape in a black BMW across fields, but failed, and the quick-thinking farmer blocked the farm entrance with his vehicle.
Mr Richards, 63, shined lights into their car as they put masks on, jumped out and proceeded to smash up his Land Rover while his wife sat in the passenger seat.
The farmer confronted the group, who then set upon him, attacking him with bolt cutters while his wife, Valerie, screamed for them to stop.
Speaking to Farmers Weekly, Mr Richards said: “They smacked me in the kneecap, at least four times and as hard as possible. I have bad bruising on my leg.
“One of them cut my finger with the cutters. My wife was screaming and one of them tried to get into the Land Rover. They were trying to move it.”
Mr Richards then told the attackers he would move his Land Rover so they could leave. He said they shot off at speed, empty-handed.
He was terrified something had happened to his wife, who he could no longer see but she had run back to the house to call the police.
He added: “They smashed the headlights, grille, windscreen and window on the Land Rover and the police have taken it off for forensic tests now.
“I am expecting to speak to the police today [13 February]. They do their best, but how are they supposed to catch these people? They had a cloned number plate on the car.
“We have had tremendous help and support from people since it happened and we are very grateful for that.”
The farmer has cameras that supply a video feed to the house, and his wife noticed the car pull in to the farmyard at about 9.10pm on the evening of the attack, Thursday 6 February.
Mr Richards said this is not the first time thieves have targeted his farm, where he grows 161ha of crops alongside 100 breeding ewes.
Anyone with information is asked to contact West Mercia Police on 101 with reference number 0731s 060220.