ARMED gangs are firing weapons at road signs to test them, an ex-marine has said.
Matthew Seiber snapped what he claims are bullet holes in a sign at Monument Lane on Portsdown Hill, Portsmouth.
Mr Seiber, author of Gunfire Graffitti: Overlooked Gun Crime in the UK, spotted the holes as he was driving.
The 59-year-old, of Catherington, believes people test weapons out on signs as it easy to get away with.
Speaking of his latest discovery he said: ‘It was probably a .22 rifle – not to be confused with an airgun.
‘It fires a very similar round but is capable of punching a hole through a couple of millimetres through a sign.
Whoever these people are, they’re pretty careful.Matthew Seiber
‘Whoever these people are, they’re pretty careful.
‘They’re not going to do it in front of you or me.
‘It gives them an opportunity to try a firearm out.’
He has travelled the country snapping road signs with what he claims is damage from bullets or other rounds.
He added some of the weapons would be legally-held.
Mr Seiber has also criticised the police response to his report of the incident.
He said: ‘I called to report it on the 101 number – all they were interested was recording it as criminal damage.’
But he added he understands the police’s reticence, adding: ‘The police must get phoned by people reporting all sorts of rubbish.’
A Hampshire police spokeswoman said they had received a report over the Portsdown Hill sighting.
She added the local Safer Neighbourhood Team had been made aware.
‘We don’t consider there was an immediate threat to the public,’ she said.
Police also confirmed there was no link between the holes in the road sign and a serious public disorder incident when officers were called to reports of shots fired.
No guns had been fired in the May 24 incident.
Mr Seiber added: ‘It’s just one of hundreds that I’ve collected over time.
‘What I’m pretty certain what I’ve found throughout the country is just a fraction of what exists.’
He spotted the damage to the road sign in early May.
Other damaged signs near Portsmouth include what he claims are bullet penetrations on the Southwick sign on the B2177, just along from a shotgun pattern blast on the camera warning sign
Mr Seiber said gangs test guns on road signs for a variety of reasons.
He said: ‘They can go back to it, and sometimes use a different weapon on the same structure.’
Mr Seiber appeared in national newspapers with his claims after writing his book.