Gang raiding car park ticket machines

A gang is breaking into ticket machines on Norfolk car parks using drills and angle grinders.The spate of break-ins has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage and resulted in security measures being stepped up at pay machines.

A gang is breaking into ticket machines at car parks using drills and angle grinders.

The spate of break-ins, which has affected some parks in north Norfolk, has caused thousands of pounds of damage and resulted in security measures being stepped up.

In recent weeks the thieves have targeted machines at Wells, Cromer, Sheringham, East Runton, Walsingham and Wroxham, as well as the Norwich airport park-and-ride base.

In North Norfolk seven machines were damaged to the tune of

£7,000-8,000, said district council contracts and facilities manager Ricky Wright.

The sum stolen ran probably into hundreds of pounds, but some machines were costing £800 to repair and one more than £3,000 to replace.

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To try to stop the crimes, the council has been putting up notices saying the machines are emptied daily and motion sensor lighting is being added to help CCTV cameras spot any suspicious night-time activity. Police have also been asked to step up patrols.

Mr Wright said people were mistaking the noise of the crooks' angle grinders and drills for council staff emptying bins.

There have been 40 attacks on pay machines across North Norfolk over the past four to five years.

At this time of year the machines contained less cash, but after a few quiet months there had been a spate of incidents, said Mr Wright.

They included one at Stearman's Yard, Wells, where one of the culprits may have left a valuable forensic clue by spitting on a nearby toilet window as he was running away.

In some other parts of the region criminals had lifted entire machines out of the ground, said Mr Wright.

He added that the council had looked into the possibility of installing cashless machines, but not everyone had bank cards and there was a

need to have cash-operated ticketing.

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