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Snow crime spree

PUBLISHED: 16:52 13 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:54 12 August 2010

GOING NOWHERE: These vehicles were abandoned at the side of a road in Beckenham following the recent deluge of snow.

GOING NOWHERE: These vehicles were abandoned at the side of a road in Beckenham following the recent deluge of snow.

POLICE have been inundated with calls about snowball fights, sledge thefts and vehicles stuck in the snow. Icy conditions which have been sub-

POLICE have been inundated with calls about snowball fights, sledge thefts and vehicles stuck in the snow.

Icy conditions which have been sub-zero for more than a week have led to a peak in weather-related incidents across the borough as some residents slid headfirst down a slope of criminality.

One man was so desperate to make the most of the temporary conditions that he sunk to the snowy depths of burgling a vicarage to steal a sledge.

The slippery thief was spotted by the vicar pulling up outside the Orpington vicarage in a car last Friday at around 1.30pm.

He got out the passenger seat, walked up the path and opened the porch door before seizing the sledge, running back to the car and driving off. Police said he did not use a sledge hammer to break in.

Officers were given a description of a 23-year-old man and when they searched his house on suspicion of burglary, his mother declared: "It can't have been him- he's been out sledging all day."

A 25-year-old man, a friend of the 23-year-old, later admitted a charge of burglary and was cautioned while the sledge was returned to its rightful owners who had had it for 15 years.

A police spokesman said: ""Obviously it was very upsetting for the vicar and his family that someone entered the vicarage and took their property in this way. It shows a total lack of respect".

Police received some 76 emergency calls about snowball fights last week which officers said were jeopardising the safety of residents.

The spokesman continued: "Every year the police service spends a great deal of time answering 999 calls that don't relate to emergency situations and it clogs up the system. We would encourage residents to make sure that they use the most appropriate number when ringing the police and contact Safer Neighbourhood Teams." Incidentally, the number was down from the 144 calls received last February regarding snowball fights in the period February 1 to 5. Burglars and robbers were not put off by the thought of precariously carrying a stolen television set over the snow, with the exact same number of offences this week as this time last year. Police recorded 58 burglaries and 10 robberies during the period January 4 to 10 which corresponds to the precise same number of the same offences for the same week in 2009. The weather conditions also caused traffic incidents to quadruple, up to 404 from 101 in the same period in 2009.

The closure of 10 of the boroughs 17 secondary schools and 23 primary schools hit the borough last Thursday when the snow peaked following a snow storm the previous night. None of Bromley's schools or colleges remained closed on Monday, which was the beginning of exam week.

Bromley council was forced to cancel some of its bin collections but promised everything would be back to normal by tomorrow (Friday).

It said it had received in the region of 800 calls from residents about the snow and gritting, but stressed these were not all complaints.

A spokesman said: "We have been working 24/7 to for the last 10 days to keep Bromley as clear from snow and ice as possible."

kate.nelson@archant.co.uk

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