BUNGLING crooks in Clacton may have mistaken an inflatable tent for a bouncy castle.

The tent, which inflates to 30ft by 18ft, was stolen from an industrial unit in Brunel Way, Clacton.

The owners now believe that the tent, which is used for chilling drinks and food at special events, could have been abandoned by the thieves.

Company director Anthony Hill said: "This is a custom-made unit which is a large tent and cooling equipment that can be used for a wide range of applications.

"We believe it could have been taken by someone who thought it was a bouncy castle.

“But if they blew it up in a back garden and realised just how big it is they might want to get rid of it.”

Refrigeration equipment was also taken along with the tent.

Staff discovered the theft on Monday, but the equipment, together valued at a five-figure sum, could have been taken during the previous two weeks.

Police have issued a photograph of the inflated tent and have appealed for help from the public about the theft.

Witnesses or anyone with information about the whereabouts of the tent and equipment should call PC Graham White, at Clacton police station, on 101.