‘Who's been torching our streets?’ Northampton neighbourhoods ask

Conservatories, sheds and fir trees have been destroyed
Conservatories, sheds and fir trees have been destroyed

It has been a troubled year for one neighbourhood in Duston. After a year with burglaries and cat mutilations, they have ended 2017 with a string of arson attacks.

The cul-de-sacs off Mendip Road have seen seven attacks in one month between November 9 and December 7.
Sheds and conservatories are set alight in the early hours of the morning, destroying gardens and spreading to houses.
The attacks seem to be at random, and people are scared for their homes, families and neighbours. Many residents the Chronicle spoke to say they sleep less and start easily at noises in their street.
“I’m up until 2am every night looking out the window”, said one woman. “We’ve bought a lock for the letterbox to stop anything being pushed through it at night.”
The stories are all similar. The targeted houses often have back alleyways. Then, late at night, there is a loud bang, and within seconds their sheds or conservatories go up in flames.
A neighbour to a victim in Cheddar Close said: “We think they must be using petrol bombs. That was my first thought. It started and spread so quickly.”
It all comes after several cat mutilations were reported in Northampton 2017, one of which was from Mendip Road.
“Who’s to say it’s not the same person who has been killing the cats?” said one next-door neighbour to a victim. “We think whoever it is is using the fires to flush the cats out where they can catch them.
“We’ve heard nothing from the police and don’t know if we are safe at night. We’ve been left in the dark.” There have been no developments in the case. A 31-year-old man was arrested on December 8 but was released under investigation.
But in a way, the community of this Duston street says they are closer for it. From house to house, there is stories of neighbours hammering on each other’s doors when the arsonist strikes to raise the alarm. Whatsapp groups have been created to keep in touch and alert each other to danger. One man even reeled out his hose and soaked his neighbour’s property before a fire could spread to it during an attack.
Neighbourhood watch organiser Bob Thornton said: “We look after each other around here. In a way, this has all brought us together. Neighbours are talking to each other and checking they are safe.
“We’ve had maybe five reported crimes in Mendip Road in the past 17 years. We still feel safe.”