ALLOTMENT holders have been left outraged after thieves caused thousands of pounds of damage at their plots.
Northfield Allotment site, just off Horsley Hill Road, South Shields, has been plagued by criminals for the past two months.
A total of 74 gardens out of the site’s 180 plots have all been targeted in some way by thieves, with windows being removed and doors pulled from hinges.
As well as stealing hundreds of pounds of equipment, including rotavators and garden forks, the raiders have caused thousands of pounds of damage.
One allotment holder, who wished not to be named, told the Gazette how a fellow plot owner turned up at the site to find vegetables had been ripped out by their roots and used to smash his greenhouse.
Chairman of the Northfield Allotment committee, Steve Heron, said: “We have no idea what these people are looking for, but as well as a lot of damage, they are also causing a lot of heartache for our holders.
“Some of these men have been left in tears at the mess that has been left behind by these mindless criminals.
“And we are talking men in their 70s and 80s here, some who may have lost their wives and come down here to take their mind off things.
“There was one man a fortnight ago who just broke down.
“They had come in, thrown his seeds all over and damaged his allotment plot – they stole nothing.
“The whole thing is just so disheartening, as to some these small gardens are their life.
“The allotment holders are full of anger – but what can we do?
“These people who are doing this are just low life.
“The police have been patrolling the allotments, regularly, since the break-ins have escalated, and we are hoping those who are doing this will be caught.”
So far, a total of 10 burglaries have been reported to police between October 18 and November 24 – prompting officers to step up patrols across the area.
Allotment holders have also been urged to step up their security, with crime prevention advice being given.
Meanwhile, people living nearby are also being called on to report anything suspicious to police.
Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Hudson said: “We know the majority of allotments on this site are kept secure by their owners.
“But as we’re still receiving reports of burglaries, I’d ask people to take extra security steps so they don’t become a victim of crime.
“If they haven’t already, allotment holders should consider fitting an alarm to their sheds, fitting motion sensors and getting to know other allotment holders so everyone knows who should be on site.
“We would always ask people to refrain from storing high-value goods in their allotments.
“Quite often, people don’t realise the value of goods stored.
“And not only that, tools of any value and description can be used by thieves to commit further crime.”
Police can be contacted on 101 ext 69191.