Fighting rural crime with Facebook

MBLN Footpath off of Manor Road, Caddington, scene of an attack on a man.
MBLN Footpath off of Manor Road, Caddington, scene of an attack on a man.

Two violent crimes in Caddington which happened days apart have shocked the village, but residents are fighting back with Facebook.

A schoolboy and a 50-year-old man were both knocked unconscious and police believe the two incidents may be linked.

Councillor Richard Stay said these incidents are “shocking” but residents are making good use of the Caddington Parish Council Facebook page to share information including crime alerts.

Councillor Stay said: “The advent of social media means people know about incidents very quickly. The parish Facebook page is amazingly useful at getting messages out to the community.

“It’s almost real time advice to let others know to look out for a certain suspicious car or person. It’s turning into quite a useful tool, although you don’t want people to think crime is endemic because they hear about it more.”

Two Manshead School, Dunstable, students were approached by a group of three men in Dunstable Road late on Thursday afternoon.

The men demanded money and the boy was punched and knocked out before the robbers stole his phone. The girl with him was pinned against a wall and searched for property before the men fled.

On Sunday evening, a man was attacked in the alley leading to Crosslands after leaving the Cricketers Arms pub.He was approached by a man who demanded he hand over his wallet. The victim refused and punched the would-be robber, but a second man attacked him from behind, hitting him round the head and leaving him unconscious on the ground.

The attackers fled empty-handed and residents say the victim was found about an hour later and taken to the Luton & Dunstable Hospital where he was treated for a suspected eye socket fracture.

He is now believed to be recovering at home.

Councillor Stay said: “I am very shocked that this type of crime – which is fortunately very rare – has resulted in a young man going through the sort of experience he did.”

Councillor Stay said there has been an increase in domestic burglaries in the village, but street robberies are a rare occurrence.

He said: “We always get an increase in domestic burglaries in the run-up to Christmas but in the 17 years I have represented Caddington I have never seen a blip like this.

“I think domestic burglary is one of the most despicable crimes you can commit and residents are concerned.

“We have seen a virtual disappearance of uniformed officers which is a problem for rural areas and this may make Caddington and Slip End look like an unprotected easy target. However I have no concerns about the response we get from police when something has happened.”

Councillor Stay said despite the recent crime increase, Caddington “remains a very pleasant and relatively crime-free place to live”.

Of the three men involved in the robbery of the school students, one was of mixed race. They were all in their late teens, about 6ft tall and wearing dark clothing.

The man who was attacked in the alley only saw one of his assailants who is described as a white man, aged 20-25, about 5ft 9ins, wearing a grey hooded top. Call Det Con Tom Hamm on 01582 394498 with information.

Chief Insp Tania Coulson said: “Crime rates in Caddington remain relatively low compared to the rest of the county but it is important that any criminality is reported to Bedfordshire Police.

“There continues to be a police presence across Central Bedfordshire with members of the Local Policing Team regularly engaging with residents and last month officers provided crime prevention advice at the Co-op store in Manor Road, Caddington, and distributed property marking kits, cycle security packs and a range of leaflets about property and personal safety. We also hold Operation Vision days.”