Parking debate and police focus part of crackdown on 'keyed' cars

Damage was done to a van in Wells-next-the-Sea. 

Damage was done to a van in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Billy Ward

Potential changes to parking and a focus on acts of vandalism are part of a town's response to reports of cars being 'keyed'.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed that Norfolk police has received 18 reports of cars being damaged in Wells-next-the-Sea between August 31, 2016, and August 31, 2021.

The majority of incidents, in which a car's paintwork is damaged by a key or sharp object, took place in 2019, when eight reports were made to Norfolk Constabulary.

Most of the investigations led to no suspect being identified, with all incidents bar three having been closed.

In one case, a community resolution, a method of dealing with lower-level crimes which can include an apology or compensation, was handed out.

A spokesperson for Norfolk Police said: “Typically an investigation into crimes of this nature will consider identifying witnesses, CCTV, dashcam footage, house to house enquiries, and in some cases appeals in local media.

“In relation to Wells in particular, the beat manager has placed an article in the local town magazine, and reducing this type of crime has also been made a priority through our Safer Neighbour Action Panel (SNAP), which will naturally lead to increased patrolling at relevant locations.”

Lucy Wines had her Landrover targeted on March 7, 2019, on Knitting Needle Lane.

Lucy Wines had her Landrover targeted on March 7, 2019, on Knitting Needle Lane. The car was only left on the road due to the fact that it had broken down and needed to be towed away. - Credit: Lucy Wines

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One of those to have their car damaged is Lucy Wines, who lives in the coastal town.

Mrs Wines had her Landrover targeted on March 7, 2019, on Knitting Needle Lane. The car was only left on the road due to the fact that it had broken down and needed to be towed away.

The scratch on the car is still there today, as the cost of repair made it not worth it.

“We were left feeling very frustrated and disappointed,” she said.

“It was such a pointless act.”

Knitting Needle Lane, in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Knitting Needle Lane, in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Google Maps

Mrs Wines added the parking situation in the town is adding to the frustration of the situation.

She said: “I think there is a lot of frustration in the town about the lack of parking.

“Parking charges are considered high and the lack of parking forces day visitors into side streets.

“Sadly some visitors are very inconsiderate with their parking but equally some residents feel the road outside their property should not be used and is solely for their use.”

Damage was done to a van in Wells-next-the-Sea. 

Damage was done to a van in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Billy Ward

Daniel Money, who lives on Northfield Avenue, had his car damaged earlier this year.

As work was being done on his property, he took his car off the drive so builders could use it, and parked it at the bottom of the road. When he came back, just a couple of hours later, he found the passenger side of his Audi Q5 had a scratch all along it.

“These things happen, it is annoying," he said.

Northfield Avenue in Wells-next-the-Sea.

Northfield Avenue in Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Google Maps

"At the end of the day, it is only a car, of course, it is really annoying but it is just one of the things.”

Mr Money did not report it to the police for fear of the impact on his insurance.

The spokesperson for Norfolk police added: “The number of recently reported crimes of this nature is relatively small (three recently), and these reports have been the subject of an investigation by the local beat manager.

“This year Wells has seen an increase in officers performing the beat manager role, with an additional seasonal beat manager, tasked specifically to the area, which is a direct acknowledgement of the increased tourism during the summer season this year.”

Mike Gates, the mayor of Wells-next-the-Sea. 

Mike Gates, the mayor of Wells-next-the-Sea. - Credit: Archant Library

Mayor for Wells, Mike Gates, said the town council is discussing ways to address the issue of parking in the town.

“We certainly do not want this going on, this is not the way for people to act," he said.

“I do not know the reason, it could be arising by the amount of parking over the summer, people annoyed with others parking outside their home, but that is only an assumption - we won’t know until we find out who is doing it.

“It is a larger issue for the town council, and we are discussing parking management and resident parking scheme.

“It is very disappointing, it is causing problems for people, a problem which is very annoying, and is a cost they could do without."

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