Dragons' Den contestant's drone firm targeted in £140,000 raid

Moment masked raiders stole drones worth £140,000 from Dragons’ Den contestant who won £60k investment from Peter Jones

  • Mark Boyt, 45, had his business in Chichester, West Sussex, targeted by burglars
  • Thieving pair stole £140,000 worth of goods in a three minute smash-and-grab 
  • Police investigating the burglary, which took place overnight on December 28 
  • Mr Boyt gave up 40 per cent of his firm for £60,000 investment on Dragons’ Den
  • Investment came from ‘Dragon’ Peter Jones, who battled rivals for the company

A Dragons’ Den contestant who had investors trading verbal blows in a bid to get a share of his business has been targeted in a ‘soul-destroying’ £140,000 burglary.

Drone shop owner Mark Boyt gave up 40 per cent of his company to secure a £60,000 investment from ‘Dragon’ Peter Jones during a 2018 appearance on the popular BBC show.

But the 45-year-old businessman, whose drone firm is based in Chichester, West Sussex, has now suffered a major ‘setback’ after being targeted by masked raiders.

The Nike-wearing burglars cut through a fence before breaking down the door to his shop during a three minute smash-and-grab on December 28.

The pair made off with 18 high-tech drones, mini drones, two cameras, goggles and accessories – said to be worth ‘well over’ £100,000 – in a Jewson branded bag.

Gutted Mr Boyt, who is the CEO and founder of Drone Safe Register and Drone Safe Store, said many customers’ Boxing Day orders were stolen by the thieves.

‘It was all very targeted,’ he said.

‘We have worked so hard to build our business and sadly we’ve had to disappoint customers whose Boxing Day orders have been stolen.

The Nike-wearing burglars cut through a fence before breaking down the door to his shop during a three minute smash-and-grab at Mr Boyt’s Chichester-based firm on December 28

Gutted Mr Boyt, who is the CEO and founder of Drone Safe Register and Drone Safe Store, said many customers’ Boxing Day orders were stolen by the thieves

‘We’ve worked night and day to build the UK’s fastest-growing and highest-rated drone store and to see that hard work tarnished in a matter of minutes is soul-destroying.’

However Mr Boyt said his business, which started as an online register of approved drone pilots and expanded to include a drone store, remained open despite the burglary.

‘We’re proud to say that despite this setback, the Drone Safe Store is still open for business and we look forward to serving you and doing what we do best.

How Mark Boyt won investment for his firm Drone Safe Register on BBC’s Dragons’ Den 

In 2018 Mark Boyt appeared on BBC show Dragons’ Den seeking a £60,000 investment to expand his business.

He immediately got the attention of the Dragons with an unusual entrance – flying one of his drones into the studio.

Mr Boyt then followed up with an explanation of his business during a short pitch to the Dragons.

He asked for a £60,000 investment for a 20 per cent stake in his business.

But after talking out the numbers, Touker Suleyman, who admitted ‘I know nothing about drones’, pulled out.

Stalwart ‘Dragon’ Deborah Meaden, who also said she was ‘not a drone enthusiast’, followed suit and announced she would not be investing.

Businessman Peter Jones offered up the £60,000 for 50 per cent of his investment and the promise of making him ‘a wealthy man’.

But Jones was challenged by fellow dragons Tej Lalvani and Jenny Campbell, who offered the same money but for a smaller chunk of Mr Boyt’s business. 

It led to a row between the competing Dragons, with Jones’ claim that his backing would be ‘immeasurably different’ being described as ‘all bluster’ by Campbell.

Lavlani meanwhile said he could build Mr Boyt’s brand ‘quicker’, leading Jones to reply: ‘Of course you can’t’.

In the end, Mr Boyt accepted Jones offer, after knocking him down to a 40 per cent share of his business. 

But the 55-year-old, who made his first millions in the telecoms industry and is now said to be worth around £450million, is no longer involved in Mr Boyt’s business.

 

‘I want to personally thank Drone Safe Register members during this troubling time for all the help and support they have offered to help track down these missing drones.

‘We are working with the manufacturer to publish all of the product’s serial numbers and are urging the public to remain vigilant for any cheap DJI drones being offered.

‘We will be offering a substantial reward for any information that leads to the identification of and arrest of the two thieves spotted in the CCTV footage.’

He added: ‘It’s pretty pointless for the thieves, the drones are unsellable, it’s a complete waste of time for them. 

‘Every single drone operator knows these drones. We’re extremely hopeful they’ll be caught.’

The firm’s alarm was triggered just after midnight on December 28. 

Two masked raiders were captured on the building’s CCTV surveillance system in all-black tracksuits, carrying a blue Jewson branded concrete mixing bag.

Both burglars were wearing Nike trainers and Nike jogging bottoms.

The two burglars forced their way into the building after damaging an outer wire fence, before rushing through the building, heading directly towards the Drone Safe Store on the first floor.

Once at the door, the thieves used brute force to smash the frame before escaping through the fire door in the direction of the nearby train tracks..

Police arrived at Basepoint Enterprise Centre within six minutes and officers even put their own drone above the scene to try to track down the burglars, but the two men had already fled the area.

Items stolen included DJI’s new Mavic 3 Cine Premium Combo, worth over £4,000, as well as Mavic 3 Fly More Kits, individual Mavic 3s and DJI Mini 2s.

In total the products’ value equates to more than £140,000 worth of tech.

Tom Boyt, manager of Drone Safe Store and son of Mark, said; ‘It’s soul-destroying to see what has happened. Doing this to a family run business at Christmas time is despicable.

‘We’ve tried so hard in the past 18 months to educate the general public on the benefits of drones and the legalities of drone flying.

‘So despite this setback, we will continue to be open for business. Stolen goods are often sold via Facebook Marketplace, we’re urging everyone to stay vigilant.

‘These drones are worth thousands of pounds each and could be found anywhere in the country by now.’ 

Police meanwhile have issued an appeal for information in a bid to help trace the two men pictured in the CCTV.

Detective Inspector Pauline Lane, of Sussex Police’s Coastal CID, said: ‘This was a significant burglary that has had a devastating impact on the victims.

‘A full investigation is ongoing and we would ask anybody who recognises the people in this picture, saw anything suspicious in the area around the time of the offence or has relevant dash-cam footage to contact police.’

Mr Boyt set up Drone Safe Register in 2015 as a UK network of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved drone pilots who could be hired through the company.

In 2018 he appeared on BBC show Dragons’ Den seeking a £60,000 investment to expand his business. 

In 2018, Mr Boyt appeared on BBC show Dragons’ Den (pictured) seeking a £60,000 investment to expand his business

In the end, Mr Boyt accepted Peter Jones’ offer (pictured: The pair shake hands), but only after knocking him down to a 40 per cent share of his business.

Businessman Peter Jones offered up the money for 50 per cent of his investment and the promise of making him ‘quite a wealthy man’.

But he was challenged by fellow dragons Tej Lalvani and Jenny Campbell, who offered the same money but for a smaller chunk of his business. 

It led to a row between the competing Dragons, with Jones’ claim that his backing would be ‘immeasurably different’ being described as ‘all bluster’ by Campbell.

Lavlani meanwhile said he could build Mr Boyt’s brand ‘quicker’, leading Jones to reply: ‘Of course you can’t’.

In the end, Mr Boyt accepted Jones’ offer, but only after knocking him down to a 40 per cent share of his business. 

But the 55-year-old, who made his first millions in the telecoms industry and is now said to be worth around £450million, is no longer involved in Mr Boyt’s business.

Anyone with information about the burglary can contact Sussex Police online or by calling 101, quoting serial 0008 of 28/12. 

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