Vandals wreak havoc on St Albans estate

PUBLISHED: 15:01 06 November 2009 | UPDATED: 14:39 06 May 2010

VANDALS left a trail of destruction as they ran riot on a housing estate. Police and firefighters were called to a string of incidents in the New Greens area of St Albans on Halloween night, October 31, including three arson attacks on vehicles. One of th

VANDALS left a trail of destruction as they ran riot on a housing estate.

Police and firefighters were called to a string of incidents in the New Greens area of St Albans on Halloween night, October 31, including three arson attacks on vehicles.

One of the vehicles targeted was a people carrier used by Heathlands School to take hearing impaired children on school trips.

It was parked in the grounds of Townsend C of E School in High Oaks, to which the specialist school for deaf children is linked, when it was set on fire at around 11.20pm after the culprits had gained entry to the school grounds.

Firefighters were called to the incident but the vehicle, which is only around one-year-old, had already been completely gutted by the flames.

Heathlands assistant head teacher, Jason Hazrati, said it was a real shame that the arsonists chose to target the vehicle and ultimately waste taxpayers' money.

Shortly before that incident, there was another arson attack on a car parked in a garage in nearby Partridge Road at around 10pm.

And between 9.30pm and 10pm a blue Peugeot 106 was set on fire in nearby Blundell Close. A police spokesperson said that the culprits broke into the driver's side of the vehicle and set the seats alight.

Officers are linking all three arson attacks and are appealing for witnesses and those with information to come forward.

There were also a number of anti-social behaviour problems including eggs being thrown at three addresses around the estate but it is not known whether the problems were linked to the arson attacks.

St Albans Neighbourhood Team Sergeant, Jamie Bartlett, said: "We had a number of reports that were suspected to be Halloween-related anti-social behaviour (ASB), including eggs being thrown at property in the area that evening.

"Traditionally we do tend to get an increased number of calls from the public around the period of Halloween and Bonfire Night."

He continued: "On the night of Halloween, there was a particular group who was spoken to by officers and moved on where necessary. Officers also visited a number of the parents of youths who were suspected to be causing a nuisance."

Sgt Bartlett said there were proactive operations undertaken to combat the problems ahead of Halloween, including visits to local schools and youth groups to educate young people about safety and the consequences of ASB and criminal damage. On the night of Halloween there were also high visibility patrols by the neighbourhood team.

He added: "We are currently following a number of lines of enquiry into alleged incidents of arson and are appealing for anyone who witnessed them take place or has any information to contact us via the non emergency number on 0845 33 00 222.

"The public can continue to help us combat incidents of ASB and criminal damage by always reporting any inappropriate behaviour to police."

* ARSONISTS also set a large haystack on fire in the middle of a field on Halloween weekend.

Firefighters were called to the scene at Hillend Farm, Sandridge, just after midnight on Sunday morning but decided to let the haystack, measuring around 100 metres-square, burn out itself with careful monitoring.

It is believed that the fire was started deliberately due to its isolated position.

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