Residents 'livid' over spate of nighttime vandalism to cars

Sam Golder North Walsham

Sam Golder, North Walsham town councillor and resident of Chestnut Avenue where a mystery vandal or group of vandals has been targeting cars at night. - Credit: Courtesy of Sam Golder

Vandals have been keying cars in a North Walsham neighbourhood, sparking calls for streetlights to be left on all night from frustrated residents.

Police said 13 incidents had been reported since February - the majority taking place in Chestnut Avenue and Hollybush Road in the town's south-east. Paintwork on the cars had apparently been scratched with a key.

The town council has since written a letter to Norfolk County Council, requesting that the streetlights not be turned off at 12.30am, as happens now, before coming back on at 5.30am.

Chestnut Avenue North Walsham

Chestnut Avenue, a neighbourhood in North Walsham, has been targeted by a mystery vandal or vandal since February 2022. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Sam Golder, who lives in Chestnut Avenue and is a North Walsham town councillor, said his own car was damaged in late March and his wife's car has been scratched three times.

"It's the hassle of having it repaired," he said. "We've never had any issues before. It's the seventh year we've been here. Then this just starts up, very much out of the blue.

"Because it's being done in the early hours of the morning, street lights might help prevent it. It's one of the darkest places in town at night. It should be lit, really.

"We'd just like to have the end of it, really. It's just getting a bit tedious now."

Scratch marks on car

Scratch marks on Sam Golder's car after it was targeted by a vandal in late March. - Credit: Courtesy of Sam Golder

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Some residents have installed security cameras because of the incidents.

One woman, who did not wish to be named, said her son's car has been keyed twice, the first time in February and then again just before Easter.

"It's disgusting. My son is 26. He works hard. His car is his pride and joy," she said.

She has been parking her own car in Dilham so it doesn't get damaged.

"We want to see the person caught. Streetlights need to be left on. I know it's expensive but it is pitch black down here.

"I never needed a camera before and I've lived here since 2017.

Chestnut Avenue North Walsham

Residents of Chestnut Avenue have called for streetlights to be left on at night after at least eleven cars were damaged after dark. - Credit: Daniel Hickey

Another resident, who also wished to remain anonymous, said her car was damaged in February.

"I am livid because the lights are out at night. We're old-age pensioners and it's pitch black. It is quite nerve-wracking," she said.

Lights out: The council's response

Despite the letter from the town council, the county council said it would leave the street lighting times on the roads affected as they are.

Dean Hawkins, the council's electrical services manager, said: “We work closely with Norfolk Police where they have identified an area affected by rise in crime and they believe dusk-to-dawn lighting will help reduce incidents.

“Studies into part-night street lighting have shown that the link between street lighting and the crime rate is very weak so increasing the time that street lights stay on may not have the effect residents are hoping for.”

Mr Hawkins said part-night street lighting also had significant environmental benefits, reducing the amount of local light pollution, energy consumption and carbon emissions.

He added: "In addition to the environmental benefits, it also helps to reduce the amount of maintenance required for each light and reduces running costs.”

Norfolk police said they had boosted patrols of the area, and have carried out a letter drop to make sure people knew about the problem.

Anyone with information should contact PC Emma Robinson, North Walsham beat manager, on 101.