Fear after car attack explosion

RESIDENTS of a Huntingdon road say they are being driven out of their homes after a spate of late-night attacks on their cars culminated in a terrifying arson incident. Householders on Norfolk Road watched in horror as a car that had been set alight by ar

RESIDENTS of a Huntingdon road say they are being driven out of their homes after a spate of late-night attacks on their cars culminated in a terrifying arson incident.

Householders on Norfolk Road watched in horror as a car that had been set alight by arsonists exploded in the early hours of Thursday morning, December 28.

Now residents are demanding the council and police take action to help drive the trouble makers away.

Hospital worker, Eirini Stamkopolou, 32, has lived in Norfolk Road for two years. She said: "Everyone is terrified. I have never seen anything like it and I want to move home.

"Someone has to do something. The police have to patrol the area. I leave for work at 6.30am when it is still pitch black and I am absolutely terrified."

As the fire raged, Mrs Stamkopolou's husband Antonios risked his life to move his vehicle and prevent its being caught up in the flames.

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Mrs Stamkopolou, who has two children aged 10 and eight months, continued: "I won't let my son out to play because it is too dangerous.

"I saw a boy of about 13 or 14 hanging around outside the houses at 3am. Where are his parents? Don't they care what their son gets up to?"

Other residents say that incidents of criminal damage to motor vehicles are becoming more frequent and more extreme.

A householder, who did not wish to be named, said: "It has been really bad round here lately, and it is getting worse.

"People are nicking anything they can see. I had my back windscreen smashed because someone was trying to get the baby seat, worth about £20.

"If it carries on like this, someone is going to get in the way and get hurt but the police say there's nothing they can do."

Husband and wife Andrew and Becky Clarke, both 27, have lived on Norfolk Road for six years. They were woken by the sound of their Peugeot 106 exploding in a ball of flame at about 2.30am.

Mrs Clarke said: "I heard a huge bang and ran to the window. I could see flames but I had no idea it was our car on fire, there's no reason to assume it would be.

"We ran downstairs and when I saw what had happened I couldn't believe it."

The couple had owned the car for just two weeks and Mrs Clarke had been using it to learn to drive.

Mr Clarke added: "It looks as though someone has tried to hotwire the car and drive it away because the car had moved slightly but then they gave up and torched it.

"There's no way we'll be buying an expensive replacement, what's the point when it will just get vandalised?"

Colin Munday, 36, has lived in Norfolk Road for 10 years and saw his car - which had been parked next to the Clarke's - go up in flames. He said: "It is an absolute nightmare situation.

"In all my time here this is the worst thing that has happened. My car has been broken into five times in 10 years but now I've come to the end of my tether and I'm considering moving.

"We need a surveillance camera, there's a decent street light there but the council don't want to know."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire Fire & Rescue Service said: "Deliberate car fires in Huntingdonshire are very rare and this incident took up valuable time and resources which could have potentially stopped us attending a more serious incident.

"The situation could have escalated had the fires spread to someone's home which could have had terrible consequences."

One of the problems residents have identified is a hedge in the cul-de-sac that blocks the view of the parking area from the houses.

Huntingdonshire District Council, which owns the hedge, have said that any request for it to be removed will be taken seriously.

A council spokesman said: "There are issues to take into consideration such as wildlife habitats when removing hedges but when there are genuine reasons, as seems to be the case here, the council will seriously consider removal."

Meanwhile, the issue of criminal damage on the Oxmoor was identified as a major problem at the area's first neighbourhood panel meeting.

Around 30 residents from the Oxmoor and Hartford attended the meeting last month and highlighted illegal mini-motorbike use and speeding as other priorities.

Sergeant Jo Vasey, who leads the Oxmoor and Hartford neighbourhood policing team, said: "We warn those involved in such criminal activity to expect to be targeted over the coming months.

"We want make the Oxmoor and Hartford a safer place for everyone who lives in and visits the areas."

The next neighbourhood panel meeting will take place in three months time.

INFORMATION: Anyone with any information about the arson attack in Norfolk Road, or who is interested in neighbourhood policing, should contact Cambridgeshire police on 0845 456 456 4.

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