SE1 window-breaker has struck more than 70 times, say police

More than 40 people attended a public meeting on Friday night to discuss a crime spree which has seen dozens of ground-floor windows smashed across the Borough and Bankside area.

The meeting at Ability Media Centre was organised by Cllr Adele Morris and local police officers in response to growing concern about the crime wave which has now lasted more than five weeks.

"I've never been involved in a case like this," said Sgt Stephen Dutton of Cathedrals safer neighbourhoods team.

Officers have struggled to detect a motive for the crimes and it has proved hard to discern a pattern to the incidents other than that they all involve windows being smashed with bricks or rocks.

As of Friday evening 72 incidents had been recorded in the previous five weeks.

Most incidents have taken place overnight but some have been as early as 10pm or as late in the morning as 8.30am.

Broken windows have been reported as far west as The Cut, as far east as Manciple Street and as far north as Sumner Buildings. Pubs, a cafe and a hairdresser's shop have all been hit, as well as dozens of homes.

"We can't work out where he'll hit next as it's so random," said Sgt Dutton.

Officers believe the offender either lives locally or has excellent local knowledge as he disappears into back streets immediately after breaking the windows.

Some homes and businesses have been hit more than once and have opted to keep their windows boarded up until the offender is caught.

The meeting was held on the same day that officers released a CCTV image of a man they wish to trace in connection with the incidents.

He is described as a black man, approximately 5' 8" tall, aged 18-21. He has often been seen wearing a waist-length jacket and a grey or black beanie hat.

The meeting heard from one local resident who was asleep in bed when he was hit by a flying brick. So far no-one has been hurt in the incidents but Sgt Dutton said that if he lived locally he would not sleep near a ground floor window in the present circumstances.

When police introduced night-time plain clothes patrols in the area no windows were smashed for more than a week, but when the extra officers were withdrawn the incidents resumed.

What to do

• If you see a crime in progress, call police on 999
• If you wake up and find a window broken, call police on 101
• If you have information which could help the investigation, call Cathedrals SNT on 020 8721 2801

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