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Students blamed for trail of destruction
VANDALS left a trail of destruction costing as much as £2,000 in two quiet residential streets.
People living in Westbourne Close and Comer Avenue, in St John’s, Worcester, awoke to find car wing mirrors smashed, aerials damaged and garden fences pushed down.
Angry residents say they believe students from the University of Worcester are responsible – saying it is no coincidence that the problems have come at the start of the new academic year, while pointing out that such “wanton destruction” does not occur in the summer.
However, police say there is “absolutely no evidence” to suggest students were involved.
But frustrated Westbourne Close resident Darron Hobbs, who found the wing mirror on his Vectra smashed during the vandalism last Monday night, said: “The university can say they don’t know for certain it was students but it is not rocket science. “The problems always start up again at this time of year when the students come back and we all know students go out on a Monday night.”
The 35-year-old self-employed telecommunications worker has managed to glue his wing mirror back in place but estimates it will cost £350 to repair properly.
“I had to work my socks off to buy that car,” he said. “I appreciate they are young and when I was a kid I was not always the best-behaved but I would never have dreamt of damaging someone’s property.”
Another frustrated Westbourne Close resident said: “This used to be a peaceful close but now at times it is a nightmare.
“It is not just the damage but also the disruption. There are elderly people here and families with young children and it can be very intimidating. People dread this time of year arriving.”
St John’s city and county councillor Richard Udall has contacted police and the university demanding action.
“Residents rightly feel angry, they feel under siege, they should not have to put up with this,” he said. “This is the worst case of wanton criminal damage I have seen in a long time. It is mindless and pathetic and those responsible should be found and dealt with accordingly.”
He wants extra patrols, mobile CCTV and hard-line action from the university for any students found to be involved in criminal activity.
West Mercia Police says it is investigating reports of cars being damaged in both roads, as well as a fence being damaged - but says the cost of the damage is estimated at about £200 rather than the £2,000 Coun Udall reported.
A spokesman said: “We take all reports of crime seriously and officers are investigating these incidents.
“There is absolutely no evidence to suggest that a student has committed any of these offences and we were impressed with the general demeanour and behaviour of students in the city during freshers week ."
University secretary John Ryan promised action against any student found to be involved.
“We treat complaints from residents about student behaviour very seriously and aim to work with the community to resolve any problems swiftly,” he said. “We will continue to listen and do all we can to ensure our students act in a neighbourly and courteous manner.”
He added the university is this year funding two police community support officers to patrol the campus and surrounding residential areas.
Anyone with information about the incidents in Westbourne Close or Comer Avenue should call police on 101.
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