Police are hunting thieves who stole more than £160,000 worth of equipment from a Highland camera store.
The crooks smashed their way into remote Ffordes Photographic, in Wester Balbair, Beauly, and stole around 120 pieces of Leica camera equipment in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Manager Alister Bowie said he was devastated at being targeted by thieves, who made off with more than £166,000 worth of goods, hitting the company hard.
He said: “The girl that works with us lives round the corner and she heard the alarm call, and alerted both the boss and the police. He noticed something was wrong when he was first on the scene.
“He noticed the window in the front was out. They had rammed the window open and pulled it out. They took it away from the building and put it down against a fence possibly to stop people from seeing what was happening.
“We have lost £166,000 worth of equipment. It’s a massive loss to any business. They went straight to the part of the building that has the most expensive equipment in it.
“It’s the Rolls Royce of the industry, not the cheap end of the market. They stole so much in such little time.”
Mr Bowie said detectives investigating the robbery suggested it was a ‘professional’ and ‘well-planned attack’ orchestrated on the business.
The robbery is the largest of its kind in the village, an act Mr Bowie never believed would happen in such a small community.
He added: “We are talking about Beauly, not the middle of Glasgow or London.
“It’s been utterly devastating that someone would do this. We have been in operation since the 1960’s and have been in this area for 18 years. We have never had a problem in our time in the village.”
>> Keep up to date with the latest news with The P&J newsletter
Beauly antiques shop Iain Marr was robbed earlier and Mr Bowie has questioned whether there was a connection, adding: “You just don’t know.”
Detective Sergeant Graham Gordon said: “This is an unusual incident for this area and we are continuing with extensive enquiries.
“Anyone who may have seen any suspicious activity around Wester Balblair around the time of the break in or was in the area at that time can contact Police Scotland on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 if you have any information.”