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Sheffield garage owner Martin Dawson was all set to self-build an extension to his Neepsend garage in 2012 – but thieves had other ideas.  They stole the extension.

Now, more than two years after originally planned, the facility has finally opened.

Mr Dawson owns STM Automotive in Parkwood Road, and the extension was designed to create more space for the growing business – and to house a brand new, state-of-the-art MoT facility that would be one of the most sophisticated in the North.

In addition to servicing, repairs, diagnostics and body painting, STM Automotive specialises in the restoration of classic cars – and the sort of work which other garages find difficult, time-consuming or expensive.

It also carries out a lot of subcontracted work from garages around South Yorkshire, which is why more space was needed – but the MoT facility represented a heavy investment in a completely new area of operations.

“We intended to do as much of the building work ourselves as possible,” said Mr Dawson. “We had more than £20,000-worth of specialist steels supplied and they were cut to shape, prepared and ready to go in – when the whole lot was stolen, including the wagon that delivered them.”But Mr Dawson was not beaten – he ordered new steels, enhanced site security – and even slept in a caravan on the site for six months to ensure that the replacement materials weren’tstolen before they were installed in the building.

After a lengthy delay, the brand new MoT bay finally opened this month (February).  It is equipped with the latest computerised equipment from high-end British manufacturer Tecalemit and is so efficient that the entire operation can be run by a single fitter.

“It’s amazing technology and it makes MoT work very fast, and very accurate,” said Mr Dawson.  “Thanks to the thieves, it took over two years from placing the order to having the kit installed, but it was worth it in the end to have one of Yorkshire’s most up-to-date MoT facilities.”