The community is being asked to provide information to try and track down the person responsible for a series of tyre slashings in Daventry.
Since May 21 this year Northamptonshire Police has received 51 reports of tyres being damaged in Daventry – 38 of which took place on the Southbrook estate with a number of incidents targeting the same vehicles.
Apart from in three cases, all had their tyres cut.
Police do not rule out there could be more incidents that have not been reported.
District sergeant Sam Dobbs said in a letter sent out to residents: “This is a despicable crime, which appears not to discriminate against any individual.
“It endangers the safety of the car owner, it seriously inconveniences the owner, costs a fortune, very often to people who cannot afford the loss and causes major upset and distress.
“A member of staff here at the police station had to report late for work last week having had all four tyres ruined, without the kind of ready access to funds to replace them. So we really do ‘get’ this.”
Adding: “Those of you who follow us on social media will notice that we have gone unusually quiet.
“This is not because we have been doing nothing, but because we were concerned that the publicity might be fuelling the offender.
“However, there has been on offence per night on Southbrook since mid/late June. It was also unhelpful to have people threatening to be vigilantes, or people who don’t live in the area and have criminal connections to be telling the police how to do their job.”
He explained that officers have no evidence to connect people to the crimes, nor can the police realistically ask everyone on the estate to park in garages or near street lights.
Sgt Dobbs added: “Intelligence has been nonexistent. There has been no information coming from the local community about these crimes, which is unusual for Daventry, where someone usually always knows something about a crime or incident. The same old names have been suggested or rumoured, but with no real evidence to link them to these crimes.
“With little prevention activity possible, and no real intelligence, I can do little to enforce, other than patrol at the key times.
“I have had officers on foot, in cars and on pedal cycles over the past week or so and this has yielded nothing in terms of evidence or suspects, and there has still been crime reported the next day.
“They have challenged people out at night and people causing nuisance in cars, and have noted the known faces and names of those whom they have come across – with nothing to link them to these offences.”
Officers until now have patrolled in their black police uniforms, minus the normal reflective and high-viz parts. Now plain clothes offices will be deployed on the estate on bicycles and in unmarked cars.
Appealing to the community to help Sgt Dobbs said: “The offender comes from the community, and my view is that this not a group of people going around cutting tyres, but one lone person randomly cutting tyres with a blade with some motive as yet not known. I therefore turn to the community to search within itself what it knows or suspects. Someone somewhere will have a hunch or some vital information which my officers need to know about.”
He asked anyone who believed a crime was in progress to call 999 and give as much information as possible to help the control room staff.
He summed up by addressing the criminal directly: “I appeal to the person causing this damage to stop risking the following...
“The reputation and safety of Daventry and Southbrook.
“The ability of the community to use and park their cars safely.
“The lives, wellbeing and livelihood of those who rely on their cars for work, for family or in an emergency.
“The distraction of a very busy police team from more serious crimes and incidents (not minimising in any way the seriousness of these damage crimes).
“The very real danger that may accompany the scenario where certain members of the community try and deal with this themselves (something I appeal members of the public not to do).”
Information when a crime is not in progress can be given to police at Daventry Police Station by calling 101, or 03000 111222, and asking for the front desk or using extension 341010.
The front desk is open to the public and staffed Monday through Saturday from 10am to 4pm.
Information can also be given anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org.