Thieves smashed their way into a family-run gym to steal £4,000-worth of equipment, including dumbbells and Olympic bars.

Combat Fitness Stoke owner Joel McManus gym owner said he was "absolutely gutted and angry" after discovering the raid during a routine check on Tuesday.

The business, in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, is closed due to the coronavirus pandemic with the break in understood to have happened at 1.37am on Monday.

Joel, 37, has joined police in urging anyone who has any information to come forward.

Combat Fitness Stoke is closed due to the coronavirus lockdown

Weighted vests, wall balls, step-up boxes and plates were also among the items stolen, while the gym itself was ransacked, said the businessman and dad.

"This is our family gym that we have worked so hard for, for so many years," he told StokeonTrentLive.

"It’s bad enough that we can’t run the gym and now this just adds to the problem."

Joel and his wife Lisa had shut the gym on Far Green industrial estate when the country went into lockdown three weeks ago.

Joel regularly checks his business every couple of days

Part-time personal trainer Lisa, aged 33, said the couple had been running online fitness classes from home but going over to the gym every couple of days to check all was well.

Joel had headed over around 3pm on Tuesday and before he'd even got inside he immediately knew something "wasn't quite right", said his wife.

"He went into the big room and that's when he saw all the stuff had been taken," she explained.

"They'd even climbed up above the toilet to get the stereo.

"The side door had been bashed in and when we looked quite a lot of equipment had been taken.

"They would have needed a van, it definitely wasn't a quick in-and-out job."

Dumbbells, Olympic bars and plates were among the items stolen

She continued: "The stuff they've taken is really heavy so I imagine there was more than one of them.

"We have had the police down and they have done forensic swabs."

Lisa fears the gym was targeted because of a demand for equipment while people are holed up in their homes during the lockdown.

The mum added: "We think they stole it to sell on. There's a huge demand for weights with all the gyms being closed and nearly everywhere has sold out.

Lisa believes the equipment will be sold on as demand is currently soaring

"It's not just someone wanting to create their own gym in their garage.

"Having said that, they could have taken a lot more because some of the bigger equipment was left.

"Altogether it's worth around £4,000 and we'll have to claim on the insurance."

Lisa added: "We're right by Central Forest Park so other than the odd drunk wandering around the industrial estate, there's never been any bother.

"It's quite quiet crime-wise. To come at a time like this is a huge kick in the teeth. We were just so shocked that someone would stoop so low to do this."

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Coronavirus outbreak

Police are now appealing for witnesses to come forward.

A  Staffordshire Police  spokesman said: "Officers were called to a report of a burglary at Combat Fitness on Far Green industrial estate on Chell Street just before 4pm on Tuesday(April 7).

"It is believed the premises were broken into at some point between April 5 and April 7, equipment was taken. Inquiries are on-going."

Anyone with information is asked to message Staffordshire Police on Facebook or Twitter or call 101 quoting incident number 506 of April 7. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.