Police have seized a crossbow and four air rifles from teenagers after a spate of shootings in and around Alnwick.
The haul has been confiscated over the last five weeks following shocking reports of animals being fired at and windows smashed.
The haul has been taken away from youths as young as 15 as part of a police crackdown on air-weapon-related disorder after an alarming rise in offences.
Just last week, the Gazette reported the horrific attack on a one-year-old cat which had to have its leg amputated after being shot by thugs at the town’s Recreation Field.
Other incidents have occurred in Barresdale, the Ratten Row allotments and in the town centre itself, and police have stepped in.
Alnwick Inspector Paul Truscott said: “There has been an increase in reports of youths, in particular, with air weapons in the town.
“We had reports of kids at the Barresdale estate, on Northumberland Estates’ land, the Recreation Field and one behind Greenwell Lane, and of course there was the incident with the cat.
“We linked these reports to a number of windows being damaged, especially in Barresdale; these windows had been damaged by air pellets.
“As part of Operation Albuquerque, we have seized four air rifles, and more alarmingly, a crossbow, which had been used to damage a window with a crossbow bolt. The young man who was possession of this has been reported and the matter has gone to his tenancy enforcement team.
“The offenders are in the 15-to-17 age bracket and we have identified about 12 youths who have been causing this disorder. We’re working with other partners, such as Homes for Northumberland, to tackle this. We had reports of poaching and we have taken positive action, with two individuals being summonsed to court.”
Police have been carrying out education work by going into schools in the town to discuss the dangers of and offences related to air weapons.
Inspector Truscott said: “These aren’t toys, there are weapons with lethal capabilities. There has been a reduction in incidents since we started this operation but we won’t get complacent and I’d encourage people to contact us on 101 if they see anybody with any type of firearm.”