AN ARMY of Neighbourhood Watch members has stepped up its level of alert in a bid to help tackle scrap metal thieves.
After a spate of metal thefts in the city, members of the Portsmouth Neighbourhood Watch agreed to help increase awareness of the crime in their areas.
Neighbours are now keeping an eye out for suspicious behaviour and reporting any potential incidents to police immediately.
The move was in response to a series of metal thefts in Portsmouth.
They have included high- profile cases such as the theft of memorial plates at Kingston Cemetery, Fratton, and lead from the roof of St Michael and All Angels’ Church, Paulsgrove.
Disabled five-year-old Aston Muff, from Wymering, had his metal walking frame stolen for scrap, sparking a huge response from readers of The News who raised money to buy him a new one.
And blacksmith Lucille scott, from Eastney had tools and equipment stolen from her workshop.
Portsmouth Neighbourhood Watch chairwoman, Marcella Payne, who is also leader of St Wilfreds Neighbourhood Watch group – the area that covers Kingston Cemetery – came up with the idea.
Ms Payne, of Daulston Road, Fratton, said: ‘Metal theft has become such a big problem in the city and it affects everyone.
‘Even the small thefts can have a big impact on people’s lives.
‘For example, we had our No Cold Calling sign stolen from our street and now rogue traders keep coming to the door. It’s just ridiculous, and people are very concerned for their safety.’
The chairwoman brought up the issue at the organisation’s last annual general meeting, and there was agreement that something needed to be done.
‘People are a lot more vigilant now,’ Marcella added.
‘They are keeping their eyes peeled for anyone acting in a suspicious manner and are actually calling the police to report what they see, which wasn’t happening before.
‘Hopefully this will help shine a light on how serious the problem is.
‘It’s also bringing the community closer together too because they all feel like they are working together.’