Police must do more to reassure arson ‘targets’

ATTACKED TWICE: This property in Browne Wilkinson Walk has suffered two arson attacks in two years. SG121113-225NG
ATTACKED TWICE: This property in Browne Wilkinson Walk has suffered two arson attacks in two years. SG121113-225NG
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There are calls for more police patrols at a row of eight old folk’s bungalows that have been hit by three arson attacks.

Residents of Browne Wilkinson Walk, Holbeach St Marks, are living in fear after an arsonist cut through a back fence, set fire to a garden shed and then broke a back bedroom window to set curtains alight.

The tenant was away that night, but the next door neighbour was woken by other residents as smoke went into his home.

Neighbours say the tenant lost almost everything she owns in the fire and wasn’t insured.

The homes are owned by Lincolnshire Rural Housing Association and one neighbour, who asked not to be named, said the housing association is making the tenant pay rent while refusing to start repairs until she moves her belongings – but she has nowhere to store her things.

Holbeach parish councillor Peter Savory said the same address was targeted two years ago when there was a different tenant, but that time it was just the shed, and there was a previous arson attack in 2006 when another home was set alight while somebody slept next door.

The fronts of the homes are overlooked by the primary school’s CCTV.

Two more residents had back fences cut on the night of the latest attack – Friday, October 18 – but they were at home and may have disturbed the would-be intruder.

The housing association was asked to comment, but no one was available.

• Former policeman Coun Savory says the fires at Browne Wilkinson Walk have the same MO (modus operandi) and police should do more to catch the culprits.

The former Essex policeman said: “There doesn’t seem to be any joined up thinking. They (Lincolnshire Police) are taking each attack on its face value.

“In my day, we would have had policemen knocking on virtually everybody’s door, especially as two of these attacks were endangering lives. There has been very little of that.”

“I know at least one resident who is moving out because of the fires – he is scared – and I know of at least one other resident who is putting up their own CCTV.”

The village has suffered other arson attacks in the past few years, including a fire on New Year’s Day 2011 when seven caravans were destroyed, and Coun Savory says it’s “ridiculous” to have so many in such as small village.

Lincolnshire Police say the latest fire is still being investigated and a full forensic examination has been carried out, but the crime remains undetected and witnesses are asked to help by calling 101.

A spokesman said: “House to house enquires were also completed alongside a review of the CCTV footage from the school.

“We have also explored any possible links to similar offences.

“Local officers are aware of what happened and are conducting their patrols with this in mind.”