Vandals risking lives by cutting phone lines at bungalows for older people

Coun John McCabe inspects damage to a home.

Coun John McCabe inspects damage to a home.

Vandals are putting pensioner’s lives at risk by cutting phone lines - leaving them without access to a vital life-saving service, a councillor has warned.

Aaround 20 bungalows in the Lilac Walk, Poplar Close and Beresford Avenue area of Hebburn have been targeted in by the mindless attacks in recent months.

Hebburn residents are being targated by vandals cutting telephone wires. 
From left  Coun John McCabe , resident Doreen Richardson and beat manager PC Karl Peterson

Hebburn residents are being targated by vandals cutting telephone wires. From left Coun John McCabe , resident Doreen Richardson and beat manager PC Karl Peterson

TV aerials and phone lines have been cut - leaving many vulnerable elderly people without access to a potentially life-saving warden scheme.

Police have now stepped up patrols in the area and, along with South Tyneside Council, are urging anyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously to contact them.

Doreen Richardson, 78, discovered her line had been cut when she found she had no phone connection at 3.30am on Monday.

She said: “I have been living here for 12 years and have had no problems. This is frightening. It’s seriously made me think about moving.

Hebburn residents are being targated by vandals cutting telephone wires around Lilac Walk
From left Sergeant Matt Hough and  Coun John McCabe

Hebburn residents are being targated by vandals cutting telephone wires around Lilac Walk From left Sergeant Matt Hough and Coun John McCabe

“Why are they doing this? They can’t be getting anything out of it. I rely on the warden scheme and not having it is frightening.”

Local councillor, Coun John McCabe, said: “This is just wanton vandalism. It’s affecting community spirit and putting people’s lives at risk.

“We need whoever is doing this caught. If anyone has information they should contact the police.”

He added: “These elderly people rely on this service in case they have slips or trips. The service also checks up on them but, if the line is cut, they don’t have this vital service available to them.”

Inspector Denise Townsley of Northumberia police, said: “We are aware of the incidents and have been working with the local authority and residents to bring this vandalism to an end.

“We are very much aware of the seriousness of these incidents and the impact these crimes are having on residents who rely on the warden service.

“Officers have been making extensive inquiries and plain clothes officers are patrolling the area. Forensic work is also being carried out as we try to establish who is responsible.”

A spokesperson for South Tyneside Homes said: “We were made aware that telephone lines were cut at two properties earlier this week leaving the occupants unable to contact anyone. The next morning our Housing Officer visited the properties affected to reassure residents and assist in contacting the police. The telephone lines are in the process of being restored by both BT and Virgin telecommunications and we are providing ongoing support during this time. We are shocked and appalled by the actions of these vandals and would encourage anyone who has any information to contact the police immediately.”

Anyone who sees anyone acting suspiciously in the area is asked to call police on 101 or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.