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Residents take action against crime

PUBLISHED: 14:42 02 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 07 July 2010

Residents at a sheltered housing complex rocked by a spat of distraction burglaries have taken fighting crime into their own hands.

Lee Warner Avenue, in Fakenham, was struck by two particularly nasty distraction burglaries of bungalows occupied by women in their late 80s and early 90s, one of which was forced to move and has never really recovered from the experience.

Residents at a sheltered housing complex rocked by a spat of distraction burglaries have taken fighting crime into their own hands.

Lee Warner Avenue, in Fakenham, was struck by two particularly nasty distraction burglaries of bungalows occupied by women in their late 80s and early 90s, one of which was forced to move and has never really recovered from the experience.

But a retired hotel porter took the bull by the horns and now, thanks to his efforts, the 35 residents can rest easy after having 24-hour CCTV surveillance, to be monitored by their warden, installed.

The alternative was to spend a £20,000 grant, originally given to cover the costs of improving a communal garden, on flowers.

Michael Norton, who worked at the Red Lion Hotel in Cromer, said: “Those burglaries were dreadful because the two women were alone in their homes and the thieves walked in in broad daylight purporting to be police officers.

“In each case one of the men kept the elderly lady talking while the other stole cash from her handbag,” said Mr Norton.

Within 24 hours of the thefts both Mr Norton and the warden Sue Kerslake had come up with the idea of installing CCTV cameras in the corridors surrounding the bungalows off Greenway Lane.

The homes complex had been awarded an Environmental Grant of £20,000 which had originally been planned to cover costs of improvements to their communal gardens but Mr Norton and Mrs Kerslake decided there was a more important priority - to give residents additional security and equally important peace of mind.

“We had to draw up a business plan and obtain three quotes so that it was all done properly which, of course, is right because we were using public money, said Mr Norton.

“In all, it took us 18 months to get the cameras installed and working but it was certainly worth it and I now feel that it is my legacy.”

Installation of the cameras has certainly put the minds of two appreciative residents at rest and they can now sleep peacefully in their beds free from concerns about uninvited intruders.

Betty Beeston, 79, who has lived at Lee Warner for seven years, said that she definitely feels more secure in her home.

“I think the presence of the security cameras gives us residents peace of mind particularly because the majority of residents are women on their own. The cameras are also a very effective deterrent for anyone thinking of committing a crime of burglary,” said Mrs Beeston.

She added: “We now feel that living at Lee Warner is literally as safe as houses.”

Mrs Beeston's friend, Pearl Stewart, 78, shares the view about the cameras offering peace of mind.

“Knowing that the cameras are there covering the entrance corridors makes us residents feel much more secure and we thank Mr Norton and our warden for pushing the project through,” said Mrs Stewart.

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