Double arson attack on garden firm – businessman fears company is being targeted by criminals

Garden Restoration's Darren Benstead with one of his two signs damaged in an arson attack.
Garden Restoration's Darren Benstead with one of his two signs damaged in an arson attack.
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A businessman in South Tyneside fears his company is being targeted after two of his advertising signs were damaged in a suspected arson attack on the same night.

Darren Benstead has been running his Garden Restorations firm after setting up the business three years ago.

It annoys you when you are trying to make a living for yourself and your family, someone thinks they can come along and try and destroy it.

Darren Benstead

Two weeks ago - in a bid to boost his profile in South Tyneside - he paid for and had put in place two trailers fitted with advertising boards.

One was in Commercial Road while a second was placed in Swinburne Street in Jarrow.

Both were destroyed in an arson attack, prompting Mr Benstead to fear his business is being targeted.

The former off-shore worker was alerted to the two fires on Wednesday night by one of his customers who sent him an image of one of the trailers on fire.

Mr Benstead said: “The signs have been up for two weeks and were fine when I last checked on them on Wednesday at 5pm.

“Then I received a message from one of my customers to say one of the trailers was on fire.

“When I went down, the fire had burned itself out but you could see something like petrol had been poured onto it. It caused some damage.

“When I checked the other sign, that too had been set on fire.”

He added: “If it had been just one of the signs then I could have put it down to someone just setting fire to things, but for both my signs to be set on fire in different places and quite far apart, it make me think someone has deliberately gone out to target my business.

Mr Benstead, from South Shields, added: “I have had quite a lot of work from the advertising boards so they do work.

“I have done quote a lot in and around South Tyneside and I have a lot of really good reviews on social media and a lot of positive feedback so I don’t even know who or why someone would do something like this.

“They are not in anyone’s way either. But if they were, then someone would have surely contacted me to and asked me to move them.

“I set the gardening restoration business up with my redundancy money from off-shore working, as it was a passion of mine. This is my livelihood.

“Not only is it going to cost me money to have them re-done and replaced, it could be potentially be costing me custom.

“It annoys you when you are trying to make a living for yourself and your family, someone thinks they can come along and try and destroy it”

As well as the signs needing to be replaced. One trailer needs to have one of its wheels replaced after it was left damaged in the fire. The fire has been reported to the police by Mr Benstead who says officers have informed him it will be investigated.

No comment was available from Northumbria Police.