THIEVES escaped with £35,000 of wedding dresses after raiding a van in East Lancashire.
Bridal saleswoman Lisa Hudson has urged shops across the area to be alert after 40 wedding dresses and 18 bridesmaid dresses were stolen from outside her home.
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Police have launched an investigation into the theft which they believe could have been planned.
Lisa said she woke up in the early hours yesterday and saw a white Vauxhall Vivaro van parked up.
And now the 45-year-old has issued an appeal to those in the trade in a bid to track down the samples from the yet-to-be-launched Romantica of Devon and Olivia Grace collections.
Lisa said: “It was around 4am and I saw a white van parked up. Obviously they had crept down the side of the driveway and broken into our van.
“I think we must have disturbed them when they were about three-quarters of the way through but by the time we got down.”
She was going to exhibit the gowns at a major bridal fair in Harrogate this week and is anxious to see the stock returned.
“I have contacted bridal outlets and put the word out on a number of forums - it is quite a close-knit industry and if someone is offered these dresses then they will be suspicious,” she added.
“It is highly unlikely that someone would be able to sell these dresses on because they are very distinctive. They are sample gowns, they are all size 10.”
The sales executive has informed Lancashire Police about their disappearance and officers have pledged to check out CCTV footage from the area, given the timing of the theft.
Lisa, of Lansdowne Close, Burnley, who has worked in the industry for 23 years, also believes that the dresses may have been stolen to order.
“The police think that the van may have been targeted because they have come prepared, with their own van, to transport the dresses,” said Lisa.
Each of the dresses came in branded Romantica of Devon garment bags or equivalent Olivia Grace covers, in silver.
Potential witnesses to the raid can contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, in confidence, on 0800 555 111.