Thieves targeting beauty spot near Wellingborough

Summer Leys
Summer Leys

Visitors are being put off going to a nature reserve due to a series of car break-ins.

Summer Leys, a nature reserve between Great Doddington and Wollaston, is a popular beauty spot but regular visitors are concerned about the number of cars being broken into there.

Numerous posts have been made about the issue on a public Facebook page set up for people to share their photographs and experiences of visiting the site.

An online poll also revealed that more than 70 people would stop going there because of the break-ins.

One recent Facebook post said: “So another car broken into and window smashed this evening, this is really putting me off going to Summer Leys.

“And others too no doubt.

“I’m gutted as I enjoy going there to clear my head, do a bit of photography and chat to new people.”

Another post read: “If people stop going then these people have got the better of us, but it really makes you wonder if it’s worth the risk.”

Summers Leys is an old gravel pit which has been transformed into an internationally important haven for breeding and wading birds.

It is owned by the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire (BCN), which is aware of the concerns raised by regular visitors.

Senior reserves manager for the trust Ben Newton said: “The Wildlife Trust are very concerned about the recent spate of vehicle break-ins at Summer Leys.

“We have been in contact with the police to formally report these issues and seek support and guidance from them.

“We are urging visitors to take all reasonable precautions, obvious things such as never leaving valuables on display in vehicles.

“We do have a staff and volunteer presence on site, but cannot hope to cover all periods, so we would urge visitors to be vigilant and call the police immediately if they see or suspect a crime of any kind is taking place.

“Summer Leys is a fantastic site for wildlife, and is loved by a great number of visitors - we are certainly trying our upmost to tackle crime at this really important site.”

In response, a spokesman for Northants Police said: “The Wellingborough Rural Neighbourhood Policing Team and Rural Joint Action Group (JAG) are aware that during the warmer months we have previously seen an increase in theft from vehicle type offences.

“As a result, at the last Rural JAG meeting the community representatives requested theft be made one of the locally identified priorities for the two-month period between July and September 2018.

“Officers from the Wellingborough Rural NPT have been actively patrolling the rural communities, covering the car parks belonging to all country parks and nature reserves.

“On a daily basis we also review crime for the last 24-hour period and have utilised the Neighbourhood Alert system where we’ve identified any theft from vehicle offences.

“At our next Rural JAG in September we will review the theft priority and the community representatives will make a decision on whether there’s a requirement for this to stay as one of the three locally identified priorities.

“With a view to lowering the chances of your vehicle being targeted for crime we would always recommend removing any valuables from your vehicle, or at the very least not leaving them visible.

“We would recommend removing any marks left by suction cups used by Sat Nav cradles, Mobile Phone holders etc.

“These marks could suggest to those looking to commit crime that your vehicle is worth trying.

“We also recommend double checking your vehicle is locked as vehicle crime offenders will usually try the doors first.”

Officers are urging people to report any crimes or suspicious behaviour at Summer Leys by calling Northants Police on 101.