Arsonists plague Suffolk town

FIRE chiefs today spoke of their growing concern at the shocking number of arson attacks in a Suffolk market town - while police told of a firebug "culture" plaguing the area.

FIRE chiefs today spoke of their growing concern at the shocking number of arson attacks in a Suffolk market town - while police told of a firebug "culture" plaguing the area.

Hadleigh has seen an astonishing 17 blazes started deliberately in less than three months – but detectives are hampered by a "remarkable" lack of information from potential witnesses, it was claimed.

Speaking as a special blaze-busting working party is formed in a bid to end "a history of continued arson" in the town, area commander Barry Cole revealed that deliberate blazes have accounted for half the emergency call outs in Hadleigh this year.

Now Assistant Divisional Officer Cole has joined the Hadleigh Area Arson and Criminal Damage working group, which met for the first time last week to bring fresh ideas on tackling the firebug "culture" in the town.

"It is a cause of great concern. It only takes something like a car fire or a wheelie bin fire to spread and involve an occupied building, ultimately ending up with a tragedy or a fatality," said ADO Cole.

"Somebody usually knows something about any crime and it's quite remarkable how there is an almost complete lack of information given to the police with regards the incidents in Hadleigh," he added. It is conspicuous by its absence."

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Sub officer Matt Barber at Hadleigh fire station said arson was "the perfect crime" because evidence is destroyed. "The arsons we are getting at the moment are petty but it doesn't take long for it to escalate," he added.

Acting Inspector for Hadleigh, Mark Lusher said that police were linking the majority of incidents that had occurred this year. "We are looking at a group of individuals. We had this problem in the year 2000 but it died off after arrests were made. Now it has started up again in Hadleigh town," he said.

Five young men with Hadleigh connections were arrested in August 2000 following an arson in Sproughton but no charges were brought.

Councillor David Grutchfield said last autumn arson attacks were at an all-time high with farms outside the town suffering huge financial losses as abandoned or stolen cars were weekly torched in fields full of crops.


POLICE are today holding a man after two straw fires and a car fire in Holbrook and Harkstead.

They were believed to be linked and are being treated as arson.

The force's helicopter was involved in the search, which ended when officers arrested a 28-year-old Holbrook man on suspicion of arson.

Pam Tunbridge, owner of the Citroen car set alight at Alton Green, Lower Holbrook, said those responsible could have destroyed her family home.

The mother-of-one said her husband Tony hosed down the gas tank after the burning car rolled towards the tank near a garage.

"The burning car and the tank was separated only by a brick wall one breeze block wide," said Mrs Tunbridge.

"My first thought was that if that went up half the house would go up and the garage.

"It all happened ever so quick. The car rolled down to the garage and suddenly the engine started and the horn went and I thought who is in the car? Although luckily no one was. Tony went out and saw a glow and said to me "your car's on fire.

"While the fire service were dealing with that a neighbour said there was a haystack on fire."

Firefighters also attended three tonnes of baled straw on fire at Alton Green, Holbrook and one tonne of burning straw close to a piggery in Ipswich Road, Harkstead.

The blazes also came after Vauxhall Farm in Great Wenham, was struck by fire for the second time in the space of a few months, in the early hours of yesterday morning .

Farm buildings at the Copdock Mill Interchange, and Capel St Mary's Co-op supermarket have also been damaged by deliberately started fires.

N Anyone with information about arson attacks is asked to call Suffolk Police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

Weblink fire

Arson attacks in Hadleigh this year include:

Date Type Address

6/1 Car Lady Lane Ind Estate

18/1 Caravan Bradfield Ave, Hadleigh

22/1 Wheelie Bin High St, Hadleigh damaged Sue Ryder charity shop

22/1 Wheelie Bin Magdalen Rd, Hadleigh

13/2 Car Duke St, Hadleigh

16/2 Shed Hadleigh High School

16/2 Skip Pykenham Way, Hadleigh

23/2 Car Clopton Gardens, Hadleigh

10/3 Car Calais St. Hadleigh

11/3 Skip Timperley Rd. Hadleigh

21/3 Car Wades Lane, Raydon, Hadleigh

23/3 Car Pykenham Way, Hadleigh

24/3 Wheelie Bin Angel St, Hadleigh

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