Crime wave leaves residents shaken

A WAVE of criminality in the Banbridge district over the past week has left residents on their guard and police appealing to the public for help in catching the culprits.

Incidents range from the theft of oil from a church and a fire in a derelict factory, to an explosion in a telephone box, as well as reports of criminal damage.

Police say around 2,000 litres of oil - worth in the region of £1,300 - was taken from a Presbyterian church building on the Gilford Road of Scarva sometime last Thursday or Friday. Anyone who noticed any unusual activity or who has any information is asked to contact Banbridge police immediately on 0845 600 8000.

Officers are also appealing for information following a security alert in the Lisraw Road of Scarva after a device exploded in a telephone box on Sunday evening, causing minor damage.

Army bomb disposal officers were called to the scene after receiving reports of a loud bang and the road was closed for a time. It is believed the damage was too great to have been caused by a firework.

Anyone who can help is asked to ring detectives at CID in Ardmore on the above number, or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

A householder in the Iveagh Close area of Banbridge was left with two broken windows after a ground floor flat was targeted around 2.40am yesterday (Monday) morning.

In what has been a busy week for local police, they also attended a fire at Brookfield Industrial Estate where they came under sustained attack with bricks and stones.

Commenting on Wednesday night’s incident, Neighbourhood Inspector, Jacqui Gillespie, voiced her “extreme disappointment” at the actions of “a few mindless people” who have been intent on causing disruption and damage.

“Arrests have been made and I am sure more will follow,” she said. “I can assure the local community we will not falter in our efforts to ensure that those responsible will be brought to justice.”

Meanwhile, a general warning has been issued following an alarming rise in the number of so-called ‘distraction’ burglaries in other areas of the ‘E’ district police division.

These involve bogus callers attempting to gain entry to victims’ homes by underhand methods, including false pleas for help.

“Bogus callers depend on the good nature and good will of others,” said a police spokesperson. “They tend to target the more vulnerable members of our society, particularly older people, and it is always advisable to be cautious of unexpected callers.”

If in doubt, the advice is to ask for proof of identity - genuine tradesmen should carry a photographic identification card - and confirmation can be made by ringing the ‘Quick Check’ number on 0800 013 2290.