Suspected vandals caught red-handed on the same CCTV cameras they smashed during their rampage at a Harborough allotment used by people with learning disabilities

The four boys and two girls – thought to be aged about 15 or 16 – were filmed by the security camera as the garden was attacked for the second time in a fortnight

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 3:44 pm
Updated Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 3:46 pm

Six suspected teenage vandals have been caught red-handed on CCTV at a smashed-up Market Harborough allotment used by people with learning disabilities.

The four boys and two girls – thought to be aged about 15 or 16 – were filmed by the security camera as the precious garden was attacked for the second time in a fortnight.

The suspects, who were ‘shot’ taking drugs and drinking, went on to destroy the camera in the late-night attack last Friday (April 16).

Police are now tracking down the six suspected teenage vandals caught red-handed on CCTV at a smashed-up Market Harborough allotment used by people with learning disabilities.

But critically the CCTV unit’s memory card has now been found intact discarded in a shed at the seriously-damaged allotment on Stevens Street, off Logan Street, Market Harborough.

And the devastated local company which uses the site week in week out is now hoping the vital breakthrough will help police catch the offenders.

We have asked for the images to be passed on to the Harborough Mail.

Tony Byers-Brown, who runs Freedom Support alongside Marie Norman, told the Harborough Mail today: “This is just the break we’ve been looking for.

Some of the damage done during the second break-in.

“This crucial surveillance footage and video evidence should help the police no end as they hunt the people who did this.

“You can clearly see four teenage boys and two girls – aged about 15-16 – on this film.”

He added: “The footage runs for about 40 minutes.

“It starts running at 21.36 hours last Friday night and ends at 22.14.

Some of the damage done during the first break-in.

“The kids are chilling out, drinking, taking drugs and dancing – if you can call it that.

“They are having a relaxed party.

“They all have nice clobber on and they look like normal middle-class teenagers,” said Tony.

“But their behaviour is totally unacceptable and inexcusable.

“And they have to be held responsible for their criminal actions.

“A lot of brilliant people upset by what’s happened have already come forward to offer us money to pay for the damage and help us get back on our feet.

“We have to stop these attacks now - so let’s hope this vital CCTV footage helps to nail the people behind them.

“It’s not too late – so maybe a local dogwalker or somebody out and about heard or saw something as well.”

In the latest attack the vandals smashed shed windows, attacked the security camera, wrecked a first aid kit and destroyed tables and chairs.

They have struck again just two weeks after leaving a shocking trail of destruction at the allotment.

The “mindless” late-night assault has outraged Tony’s business partner Marie Norman.

She has been using the garden for nine years after setting up Freedom Support, which supports people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, with Tony in Market Harborough in 2011.

“I’m almost lost for words.

“It was cruel enough to have our beloved allotment attacked earlier this month.

“But to be singled out again just two weeks later is soul-destroying.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

“We’d set our hearts on taking the people we work with back up there this week.

“But we clearly cannot do that now,” said Marie.

“They were really looking forward to going back to our allotment as well after missing out last week because of the first incident.

“The sun is shining, the weather is beautiful and they couldn’t wait to get back out into the fresh air after the latest lockdown.

“And now these idiots go back at the weekend and hit us again.

“It is so annoying, so frustrating,” said Marie.

“They’ve smashed our shed windows, strewn our first aid box all over the place and destroyed a security camera.

“The vandals have also smashed up the tables and chairs they didn’t bother to break up at Easter.

“I am at the end of my tether.

“We also got attacked before Christmas.

“How can we make plans for taking our people up there when we don’t know if it’s going to be in one piece?

“Moronic attacks like these just rip up all our plans in half.

“It beggars belief.”

The latest incident comes after a gang went on a drinking spree at the allotment in the run-up to Easter - wreaking damage running into hundreds of pounds.

They broke up tables and chairs and destroyed first aid boxes as well as other valuable equipment.

“Security obviously has to be stepped up at this site on Stevens Street because we cannot go on like this.

“It’s becoming simply unsustainable.

“There has been anti-social behaviour and trouble at other places in Market Harborough recently – such as Little Bowden rec,” said Marie.

“And it seems to have spilled out elsewhere into the town as well.

“We’ll have to talk to the Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, which owns the site, and the police about they are going to urgently tackle this growing problem.”

She said her 50 or so clients who go to the allotment regularly – sometimes two or three times a week – will be forced to stay away for the foreseeable future.

“They are vulnerable people of all ages ranging from 18 or even younger all the way up to 60 or 70.

“They all love going to the Stevens Street allotment and they’ve been very upset by this,” said Marie.

“The vandals who hit us two weeks ago also smashed up bottles and scattered shattered glass over the place – it’s outrageous.

“Why do people carry out this sort of devastating damage?

“What the heck do they get out of it?

“It’s such a huge shame because Market Harborough is such a great place for people with learning disabilities.

“Most people know our allotment is used by people with learning disabilities and people struggling with their mental health.

“It’s been a priceless outdoors space in the sunshine we’ve been able to use for clients throughout this Covid pandemic,” said Marie.

“We work alongside the county council’s education department with our clients growing some fantastic veg there.

“People love going there to see each other, have a chat and catch up over a cuppa while tending their flowers, plant and veg.

“They can be up there all day in the summer and even take a picnic to tuck into and enjoy.

“But now all of this is being thrown into serious danger by a moronic minority.”

If you would like to make a financial donation to help fund essential repairs and new kit or help to clean up the seriously-damaged allotment please email Marie at [email protected]

John Feavyour, chairman of Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, vowed that they take security very seriously and are constantly seeking to improve it.

You can find out more about Marie’s training academy Freedom Support here:

A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: “Officers are carrying out further enquiries after some damage was caused to an allotment in Stevens Street, Market Harborough, on two occasions.

“A bench was damaged sometime between 28 March and 1 April and sometime over the weekend further damage was caused to a shed and CCTV camera.

“If anyone has information about the incidents they are asked to contact 101, quoting crime number 21*180894.”