Concerns over spike in crime on Hartlepool allotment site after spate of break-ins
Police and allotment officials are urging holders at a Hartlepool site to be vigilant after a spate of recent break-ins.
A number of plots and sheds at Burn Valley allotments have been broken into in recent weeks which are being investigated by Cleveland Police and Hartlepool Borough Council.
One allotment holder on the site claims crime has increased after three CCTV cameras managed by gardeners were removed by the council in 2019 after the local authority said they were being operated illegally.
The site is now covered by a council-operated camera.
John Hays, of the Burn Valley Allotments and Security Group, said: “When we had our cameras we had the odd break-in now and again but that was it.
"We’ve never had this much crime going back 15 years.”
Councillor Tony Richardson, who is a member of the National Allotment Society, added: “The cameras were bought by the council from grants received.
"The way they were removed was absolutely despicable.”
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “There have been several recent break-ins at the allotments, which is very frustrating as reported crime at the site over the past 18 months has been low.
"Together with the police we are investigating these latest incidents, including examination of footage from the council-operated CCTV camera at the site.
"We would urge anybody who has any information to please contact the police."
As part of the Hartlepool Safer Streets project in the wider Burn Valley area the council says it will shortly be issuing plot holders with allotment security packs including a UV pen property marking kit, shed bolt and lock plus an infrared shed alarm.
Anti-climb spiked strips will also be installed on perimeter fencing at the site.
The spokesman added: “We would also once again remind allotment holders not to keep anything of value on plots overnight and to always close and lock gates when leaving the allotment site.”
Hartlepool Neighbourhood Policing Team’s PCSO Mark Say added: “This time of year will see more people working on their allotment and in March we plan to offer free property marking.
"We’d encourage everyone to ensure high-value items are stored securely or if that’s not possible, removed at the end of the day.”
PCSO Say encouraged allotment users to report any suspicious activity to police on 101.