Vandals’ £100k wrecking spree

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Vandals went on a £100,000 wrecking spree playing “Robot Wars” with mechanical diggers on a village green.

The JCB fight, which left two machines badly damaged, was the latest in a string of attacks on community playing fields off Longsands Lane, in Fulwood.

Police have released video footage of two young people – a boy and a girl – who were caught on camera starting up diggers which had been left overnight by workmen constructing a footpath.

“These youngsters need catching before someone gets badly hurt,” said Tony Jackson, chairman of the Longsands Community Association.

“Climbing on diggers and starting them up is incredibly dangerous. They have caused damage running into six figures – but, more importantly, they are lucky no-one has been killed.

“The message we would like to get out to these young people is: You are being watched.”

Residents say the Longsands Village Green project, started in 2005 alongside the neighbourhood’s Millennium Hall community 
centre, has been beset by vandal attacks.

But the trouble has escalated since work to lay a footpath around the green began on June 9.

Sgt Mike Sampson, of the Fulwood Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “The work has meant that a lot of machinery has been left unattended overnight.

“Numerous offences have been committed on the field while work has been ongoing and the resultant cost of the damage to the plant machinery has been estimated in the region of £100,000.

“We have been fortunate enough to obtain some footage of two of the people responsible and we are asking if anyone who recognises them, or knows of anyone who has been involved in these attacks, to get in touch with us.”

The village green, on a reclaimed landfill site, has been a community resource for the past nine years and more than £140,000 has been spent turning it into a focal point for the neighbourhood.

But the DIY residents’ group has had to endure a series of vandal and grafitti attacks along the way.

“It is virtually complete now, but it hasn’t been easy,” said chairman Tony. “It started within a few weeks of work getting under way and it has been one thing after another ever since.

“JCBs have been damaged on more than one occasion. A dumper truck also went walkabout. The latest vandalism has been aimed at these vehicles. But, hopefully, now the plant has been removed from the site that might be the end of it.

“The video was shot by a resident whose house overlooks the green. Maybe if they see it these youngsters will realise they are being watched.”