A Worthing restaurant owner was delighted to discover his unique red tractor, which was stolen last week, has been found.
Within days of reporting the theft of the ‘valuable’ and historic tractor to police, and highlighting the incident in the Herald, the tractor was spotted in an online advert and tracked down by officers.
Two men were arrested for offences in connection to the incident.
Mr Sparsis, owner of the tractor and founder of Proto Restaurants which owns Worthing eateries The Fish Factory, The Fat Greek Taverna and Food, said: “I’m very pleased, it’s fantastic.
“When something like that gets stolen, you never think you’re going to see it again.
“To get it back is remarkable.”
The tractor had been stored by Mr Sparsis at a warehouse in Newland Street, which was broken into at some point between about midday last Monday (October 9) and 8am last Tuesday.
The red tractor, which Mr Sparsis had bought in France and spent a year restoring, was stolen along with several other items totalling £20,000.
He said at the time that the incident was ‘upsetting’.
After reporting it to police, Mr Sparsis contacted the Herald for a story which was shared widely.
Within a day or two, a Herald reader, who had seen the story, contacted the police to say that her husband – a tractor fanatic, according to Mr Sparsis – had seen the tractor advertised for sale online.
Mr Sparsis thanked the police for their quick actions to track down the tractor, which was in West Chiltington.
“It’s impressive that they found it so quickly,” he said.
“They pulled out all the stops.”
The tractor, which dates back to the 1950s, is currently in a police forensics unit while evidence is being collected,
Mr Sparsis hopes to have it returned soon, so that the tractor – which he said is ‘well known’ in the town – can continued to be used by the company at the Rotary Carnival, food festivals and charity functions.
He described the tractor as a ‘little crime fighting hero’.
Police confirmed that Daniel Yeomens, 30, a roofer, of Newham Close, Steyning, has been charged with receiving stolen goods.
He has been bailed to appear at Worthing Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, November 14, police said.
A second man, aged 36, from Shoreham, who also arrested on suspicion of handling stolen goods, was released without charge, police added.