Like a stolen stone
INSPIRED by TV gardening experts, people are stealing stones from Suffolk's beaches – to give their own plots a makeover!Colourful Charlie Dimmock and Diarmid Gavin are being blamed today for an upsurge in people armed with shovels and sacks removing tens of thousands of pebbles from the shores.
INSPIRED by TV gardening experts, people are stealing stones from Suffolk's beaches – to give their own plots a makeover!
Colourful Charlie Dimmock and Diarmid Gavin are being blamed today for an upsurge in people armed with shovels and sacks removing tens of thousands of pebbles from the shores.
Areas of shingle and stones with stunning grasses and sea plants growing through them is all the rage at the moment.
And while the loss of shingle may seem comical, experts are warning it could weaken sea defences and beaches – and those caught doing it will be prosecuted for theft.
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At Felixstowe, police tracked down and spoke to two elderly people – believed to be a man aged 70 and a woman of 65 – after they were seen returning daily to fill between six and 12 sacks with stones.
Residents in Undercliff Road East watched in amusement at first as the couple loaded the bags in their car, taking them from the vulnerable East Beach.
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But after a few days they became suspicious, took the car number and contacted town and district councillor Doreen Savage.
"The police were informed and when they found the couple they were using the shingle to give their garden a makeover, just like they had seen on the television, instead of buying it from a garden centre" said Mrs Savage.
"They were completely ignorant of the fact that they were stealing and simply believed it was fine to take sacks of shingle from the beach. In fact, they were horrified that they had broken the law.
"Of course, they are not alone – I think there is a perception that it is OK to take the pebbles. A friend of mine believed for some reason that it was perfectly legal to take a bag of stones away a day!"
The beach belongs to Suffolk Coastal District Council, which is also responsible for maintaining it and the sea defences – and has spent millions of pounds of council tax payers' money doing so over the years.
"Hearing that people are stealing stones may sound funny, but there is a very serious side to it," said Mrs Savage.
"If everyone was to go and get sacks of stones, or take home a bag or two of pebbles each time, it would leave our beach in a parlous state and the knock on effect would be that it would soon disappear.
"We have spent huge sums of money on replenishment of the beach – we don't want people to walk off with it!
"Fortunately, we had some people who were quite rightly alarmed by what they saw happening and civic-minded enough to report it."
Opinion – see page 6.
What do you think of people taking pebbles from the beach – have you done it? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk
n Do you know the couple who took the material from Felixstowe – was it you? Ring our Felixstowe Newsdesk on 01394 284109.