VANDALS have been taking advantage of the coronavirus lockdown by wrecking a trail of destruction over the past week.
In addition to incidents being reported in Sindlesham, where a rubbish bin was burnt down, and Woodley, there has been a spate of attacks in Shinfield, thought to have been caused by a gang with a catapult.
The yobs have smashed the windows of Davis Tate estate agents in School Green, smashed floodlights at Shinfield Tennis Club in Millworth Lane, and caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to a bus purchased by Shinfield St Mary’s Junior School.
Rocks were thrown at the vehicle, smashing all the windows. It was being refitted so it could be used as a nurture space for pupils when the Chestnut Crescent school reopens.
And to add to the destruction, a car was vandalised in the car park of the Bell and Bottle pub in School Green and nets were damaged at the cricket club. The incidents took place on Monday, April 6.
Cllr Jim Frewin was furious at the damage to the village.
“Given the current situation this is even more unacceptable than ever,” he said. “Let’s track these mindless idiots down and ensure justice is done. It is not acceptable behaviour.
“To be blatantly walking around vandalising the village it’s unbelievable.”
He said that a number of residents had been in touch with him to express their horror over the attack.
He urged anyone with information to call police on 101, so that the vandals could be caught.
There has also been outrage on social media. One said it was disgusting, while another said that people had been walking around with a catapult.
And a third person said: “Mindless criminal damage causes undue stress to all people affected, I feel especially sorry they sought to target the bus”.
Sue Runciman, the headteacher of St Mary’s, was devastated by the vandalism but had some good news.
She said: “We were very disappointed to return to school last Tuesday to find that the windows of the upper storey of our newly-purchased double-decker bus had been smashed by youths as they made their way along Millworth Lane, presumable as they advanced through the whole village.
“Our PTA has offered to refurbish this bus for us so that children who are feeling vulnerable can have a space that they feel safe in to go to, reading in a corner perhaps, reflecting on some cushions, or talking things over with a friendly adult.
“We had not budgeted for it to be damaged further.
“However, the grandfather of one of our pupils, quite by chance, used to be the director of bus glazing company PSV Glazing, which has very generously offered to repair this for us at no cost.
“We are so grateful for this – and consider ourselves very fortunate indeed to be living in a community with so few bad apples in it – they never spoil the whole bunch.”
Tony Williams, a coach at the tennis club, said that it is thought ball bearings were fired at the floodlights to break them.
“We think it will cost between £200 and £300 to repair each light.
“It is very disappointing. We’re a small local club set up purely for people in the Shinfield area. We’re not out to make lots of money, just enough to cover our costs. This is something else we now have to fund.”
A spokesperson for Thames Valley Police said: “No arrests have been made. Anyone with information would be asked to call Thames Valley Police, quoting reference 43200107203.”