Trees cut down as estate crime spirals
Police step up night-time patrols to combat rise in anti-social crime on Barnstaple housing estate.
POLICE say they have stepped up night-time patrols on a Barnstaple housing estate in response to an alarming rise in crime in recent weeks.
The escalation of criminal damage in Roundswell took an unusual turn last week when a number of trees were sawn down in an apparent series of random overnight attacks in the Wester-Moor Drive area.
After three saplings were cut down on Tuesday week, Judith Collins, woke on Wednesday morning to discover a 25ft cherry tree in her front garden had been felled onto a neighbour’s car.
The retired teacher said: “It was a lovely tree, one of the largest around and very well established.
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“I feel violated – it leaves me speechless. I am despairing of how people are not able to respect other people’s things.
“This was not a spur of the moment thing – it was premeditated. My only question is why? I’d be very intrigued to know why someone was walking around with a power tool in the dead of night.”
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Neighbour Ruth Harman, whose car was fortunate to escape with a few scratches, said: “It could have been a lot worse – it could have gone through the windows. It’s mindless vandalism; it’s gutting that people can be so sick.
“You’d think the noise would have woken us up but we didn’t hear a thing. We need the street lights turned back on again.”
In other incidents reported in recent weeks, cars have been damaged, windows shot with BB gun pellets, and graffiti daubed on traffic signs and houses.
There has also been a burglary and an attempted burglary and residents are being urged to stay vigilant.
In a message sent to residents, PC Richard Preston said police would be providing a ‘marked and visible’ presence during the evenings and night-times.
He said: “We have highlighted this area as a priority area within Barnstaple.
“Over the past two months there has been a rise in anti-social behaviour and reports of criminal damage to vehicles and property around the Meadowbrook, Lower Westlake Road, Middlecombe Drive area and also on the Sainsbury’s side of Roundswell, specifically around Higher Elmwood.”
PC Preston asked residents to remain vigilant, ensure property and belongings were secure, and report any suspicious behaviour.
Roundswell councillor Rodney Cann said: “We’ve had minor problems in Roundswell for some time now but nothing as bad as this. There is a real risk of serious damage.
“People are really upset at the mindless vandalism.”
Cllr Cann said it was ‘impossible to say’ whether the lack of street lighting had played its part in the problems.
He said: “You have got to have a lingering doubt that this could have provided an opportunity for this to have happened but you can never be quite certain.”