Parents warned of youths burning wheelie bins in bid to get high on toxic fumes - police concern as 'alarming' craze spreads to our area
Parents are being warned of a new craze for young people stealing and burning wheelie bins in an attempt to get high.
The "alarming" craze has been a concern nationally in recent months, but police say incidents have been seen in villages and communities surrounding Durham City recently - and it is "happening all over".
Officers from Durham Constabulary say young people are stealing wheelie bins and then taking them to dens in the woods where they set fire to them and sniff the toxic fumes.
A Durham City police spokesman said: "If your child is out and about and then comes home smelling of smoke they could be involved.
"If you suspect your child may be doing this please intervene and advise them that taking wheelie bins is theft and burning them is arson both these crimes will get them a criminal record.
"Not only is this craze criminal but it is also very dangerous and potentially lethal.
"Your local neighbourhood policing teams are working hard to try and tackle these crimes and incidents. We have increased patrols in hot spot areas and are engaging with young people to deter them from crime."
The force said Bearpark, Ushaw Moor, New Brancepeth, Brandon and Framwellgate Moor areas have seen recent incidents of this nature but "it is happening all over".
The spokesman added: "You may also notice increased patrols from our Durham County Council Street Warden colleagues, this is just for added reassurance ensuring that our streets are the safest they can be.
"Residents could you please make sure your wheelie bin is kept out of sight and if possible use a metal chain or a bike chain to secure it. If your bin is stolen the council will still charge for a replacement, even if you have a crime number."