YOUTH gangs are being blamed for a spate of vandalism which has taken lampposts in Portsmouth out of action.
During a 48-hour period residents reported a total of 17 damaged street lights to Portsmouth City Council’s highways contractor Colas.
They were all discovered with their doors removed and wires cut on April 30 and May 1 by people living in and around Stamshaw.
Engineers from Colas said they went to the lampposts within an hour of the calls coming in to repair the damage.
Lib Dem council cabinet member for community safety, Cllr Lynne Stagg, said she thought a rivalry between two youth gangs in central Portsmouth could be responsible.
‘I know we have had problems with anti-social behaviour in Stamshaw,’ she said.
‘And there have been problems with two gangs, causing trouble to one-up each other.
‘I don’t know to what extend they could be involved
‘They are not old kids; it’s mostly 14, 15 and 16-year-olds who ride pushbikes.
‘They have been involved in anti-social behaviour of all sorts, often it’s things like this. Although it has got better recently.
‘It’s just kids thinking it’s fun to cause damage.’
She added: ‘Colas is pretty good at sorting these things out quickly, but it partly relies on people letting it know about them.’
Cllr Stagg said the Tesco Express in Stubbington Avenue and Co-operative store in Copnor Road have both reported thefts, for which the two gangs are believed to be responsible.
Shelia Roberts, 56, lives in Strode Road in Stamshaw and said she often sees street lamps turned off which look like they’ve been tampered with.
‘It can be bad enough walking around at night,’ she said.
‘Without everything being thrown into darkness.
‘I know it’s probably youngsters larking around but it makes people feel less safe.
‘Problem is there aren’t enough police around to stop them doing it.’
Ray Muscat, electrical contract manager for Colas, said: ‘The street lamps seem to be deliberately damaged and we are asking residents to take extra care when walking in the dark and to keep their homes secure leading up to the bank holiday weekend.’