Monday, 18 December 2017

Burglaries double but antisocial behaviour in village centre falls

THE number of burglaries in Sonning Common has almost doubled in the last year. 

Sergeant Steve Bobbett, head of neighbourhood policing for the area, said there had been 11 burglaries in the last four months compared to six in the same period last year.

Speaking at a parish council meeting last Monday, Sgt Bobbett reported two aggravated burglaries had taken place in the village recently as well as a distraction burglary at the Heath & Watkins hardware store in Wood Lane. 

“It is an issue around the whole area and there has been a rise in these,” he said. “We encourage people to leave lights on when they go out and to report anything they think is suspicious in relation to burglaries.”

Sgt Bobbett also revealed that the number of incidents of arson and criminal damage in the last 11 months was about the same as the previous year with 15 incidents being reported compared to 16 in 2016.

He added: “There are some ongoing issues such as drugs in the area and we are aware empty canisters of nitrous oxide have been found on patrols in the area. 

“We encourage people to report anything they see. People might not think it’s important but they should call 101.”

Councillor Leigh Rawlins asked if the crimes were being committed by people who lived locally.

Sgt Bobbett, who covers Henley, Thame, Wheatley and Chinnor, replied: “People are coming across borders across the whole the South and Vale area. There is quite a lot happening in the Wheatley area with people coming from Oxford. Down in this area it could be people coming from Reading.”

Sgt Bobbett also reported that the number of incidents of anti-social behaviour in the village centre had dropped. He said the last time they had a complaint was four months ago.

In May, the parish council installed extra lighting outside the village hall in Wood Lane due to youth congregating in the area, sometimes until 3am. The lighting was used in tandem with the parish council’s CCTV cameras.

In November last year police issued seven youths from the village with a behaviour contract which sets out what is acceptable behaviour and has to be signed by all the parties involved and could lead to further punishments.

Sgt Bobbett also said that new double yellow lines on Lea Road and a single yellow line near the primary school in Grove Road had been effective in reducing problem parking.

The work, which cost £4,000 and was paid for by the parish council, is designed to improve road safety and ease congestion in the area and followed complaints by residents about parents’ cars blocking their drives.

Meanwhile, the damaged caused in an arson attack at the skate park at the Bishopswood recreation ground last month cost about £10,000 to repair.

Three buggies were stolen from Caversham Heath Golf Club and then destroyed in an arson and criminal damage attack at the skate park.

Parish clerk Philip Collings, who had criticised the police for their lack of response to the incident, told the council that all but the cost of new bins had been covered by the council’s insurance.

The repairs included new fencing and repairs to the concrete skatepark surface.

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