Horncastle Police say they will take “strong and swift” action to combat reports of escalating anti-social behaviour in the town.
In the space of the last week, police have had to deal with a number of incidents including:
*damage to crosses at the War Memorial Hospital
*vandalism at the Wa’shum and Go laundrette
*broken windows at the Agra Restaurant
*vandalism in Lindsey Court
In addition, there are reports of ASB in other areas, including Louth Road and Bowl Alley Lane.
Residents have come forward to complain about gangs of youths congregating in St Mary’s churchyard.
PCSO Nigel Wass pledged officers would step up patrols and indicated they had made “significant progress” towards identifying potential offenders.
He described the incidents as a “spike” in ASB and denied suggestions locally that the damage was caused by problem families moving into the town.
He also dismissed suggestions that vandalism at the Memorial Hospital and the Agra Restaurant was racially motivated.
The News has learned offensive graffiti - with religious overtones - was written on one of the memorial crosses.
PCSO confirmed the cross was dedicated to soldiers who had served in the Afghan War.
He said: “We can’t reveal any details about what was written but we don’t believe it is racially motivated.
“It could be a matter of someone trying to make a political protest about the Afghan War.
“There was also damage to the windows at an Indian Restaurant but we are not linking the two incidents.
“We will be stepping up patrols and a lot of work is going on to identify offenders.
“We will not be messing about. We will take strong and swift action to deal with culprits.
“We don’t want this type of behaviour in Horncastle.”
Councillor Bill Aron, chairman of the Memorial Hospital trustees, said he was ‘saddened’ by the vandalism.
He added: “We haven’t had any trouble here for 14 or 15 years and then someone attacks the memorial crosses. It beggars belief.”
Mike Shum, owner of the launderette in Bridge Street, said he was “sick and tired” of the vandalism.
He added: “It is probably kids and they’ve caused hundreds of pounds of damage. I own eight launderettes across the district and you wonder whether it’s worth it.
“You’d like to see more police on the beat but they can’t be everywhere.”
Officers are studying CCTV footage although it is not clear whether cameras covered all the locations.
Ironically, news of the increase in vandalism comes a week after town councillors raised concerns about the number officers on duty in Horncastle and surrounding villages - describing the situation as a ‘thin blue line.’
Police also confirmed they had taken ‘restorative justice’ action against school pupils involved in ASB and thefts from town shops.
*Anyone with information can contact PCSO Wass on 101 Ext 4627 or 07939 312724. Alternatively, they can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.