A spate of criminal damage in Alnwick town centre has led to calls to improve CCTV as a matter of urgency, after mindless vandals went on an overnight wrecking spree.
And police are putting on extra patrols following the attacks, which resulted in numerous businesses having their windows smashed.
Two local youths have been arrested in relation to the incidents, which happened overnight on Tuesday, and are helping officers with their inquiries.
The vandalism comes little more than a month after police launched Operation Augusta, to fight back against criminal damage and anti-social behaviour in the town, following a crime wave including bin fires, graffiti and other incidents of window damage.
The premises targeted overnight on Tuesday were Jobson’s of Alnwick, Northumbrian Cottages, Northumbria Pets and Glendale Paints – all on Bondgate Within.
Sometime over the weekend, Cussins, which is on the same street, also had its window smashed.
The behaviour has been condemned by councillors, traders and police, with Alnwick town and county councillor Gordon Castle describing this week’s damage as the worst he has seen in many years.
Coun Castle and fellow Alnwick county councillor Heather Cairns stressed the need for new CCTV to be installed as soon as possible.
He said: “It is a very depressing discovery that we have got a cyclical increase in criminal damage. I am sorry for the businesses concerned – it is expensive and it is a real nuisance.
“These incidents add urgency to the issue of CCTV in the town centre, because what has happened is shocking.”
He added: “The town council is looking at increasing the CCTV requirement in the town. It has budgeted money for it and the whole CCTV issue is under review. These incidents have added to the urgency of getting this right and if we already had a better CCTV system, we might not have had these incidents.
“I will be raising this at the next town-council meeting.”
Coun Cairns branded the vandalism deplorable and said she would support efforts to improve CCTV in the town.
She told the Gazette: “It is a long time since we have had this sort of destructive behaviour in Alnwick, and working with the police and schools, we need to condemn it and make sure that we all work together to prevent it happening.
“We need to get on with the issue of CCTV quickly and put some pressure on to get things moving.
“I am happy to put in money from my members’ small schemes allowance to help pay for the CCTV, if that is possible.”
Alnwick Inspector Paul Truscott said that the number of incidents in the town centre had dropped since the launch of Operation Augusta, but vowed to clamp down on any issues that occur.
He said: “The town centre has been quiet for a month following our last crackdown, but we are putting out extra patrols to reassure the public and to deter further offences and we are continuing to target known offenders.
“These acts of random damage are to be condemned. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated and every effort will be made to bring the offenders to justice.”
Traders who were targeted in Tuesday night’s vandalism have spoken of their frustration.
A spokeswoman from Glendale Paints described it as ‘frustrating and very upsetting’, while a Jobson’s representative said the damage caused was aggravating.
Anyone with details, call police on 101.