Anger as catapulter fires marbles at Risca residents
10:15am Thursday 15th August 2013 in News
Elaine Rees, owner of the Exchange Inn, Risca, with a bucket of marbles she has collected around the ground
IT sounds like something from a Beano comic strip, with a phantom catapulter targeting locals, pub and shop windows as well as parked cars.
But, people in Risca believe the offender is potentially even more dangerous than Dennis the Menace, with marbles and ball bearings being shot at dangerous speeds.
Over the last year hundreds have rained down on businesses, houses and people who use St Mary Street, Exchange Road and Grove Road. It is a mystery where they are coming from as the culprit is never anywhere to be seen.
The main target has been the Exchange Inn, with landlady Elaine Rees collecting over 300 marbles from around the premises.
She first reported an incident of a missile being shot at her pub during a Pubwatch meeting in June last year. She said: “It was not safe for anyone to sit outside. The police said to report the incident every time it happened, but if I did, I wouldn’t be off the phone.
“We had a broken window, a customer had a nasty bruise on his shoulder and they’ve been fired at 80-year-olds. We can see them whizzing over, but when we run out, nobody’s about. It’s a mystery.”
Drinker Bernard Hughes, 64, sustained a badly bruised shoulder after being hit. He said: “If it hadn’t hit me, it would have hit my friend in the face.”
Peter Kemp who runs the nearby Exchange Post Office said the situation has become “worse and worse over the last month”.
He said: “Last week one just missed a pensioner coming in and was shot so hard it carried on for 200 yards. When I mention it to people in the shop, they say things like ‘I have found 20 marbles in my garden’.
“A neighbour was sunbathing and heard a massive bang. He thought he was being shot at, but it was a marble taking a chunk out of a concrete wall.”
Mr Kemp described glass marbles, nuts, bolts and ball bearings all peppering the area, with his windows smashed twice and a nearby pensioner complex also targeted.
He added: “I’ve seen them flying through the air and thumping into the pub. They must be being fired with a hunting-type sling. They are terrorising people and are being fired at such speed they will kill someone.”
A Gwent Police spokeswoman said: “Concerns have been raised in Risca about marbles being thrown or catapulted in the St Mary's Street, Exchange Road and Grove Road areas.
“One case on January 14 2013 reported that the windscreen of a vehicle was damaged.”
The spokeswoman said that no-one has been injured yet but said it is “an extremely dangerous activity” that is “of great concern” to local officer and the community.
Patrols have been increased in the area as the hunt for the culprit steps up. If you have information, call 101 quoting log 232 05/08/13.
COMMENT: Catch the catapulter
IT READS like a story from another age.
Kids with catapults belong to the era of Just William and Denis the Menace, along with ginger beer and jolly adventures.
But it is very much a here and now problem for the people of Risca.
Pub and shop windows, cars, and houses have all fallen victim to the town's phantom catapulter.
It is actually a serious issue.
Marbles and ball bearings are the missile of choice for whoever is causing problems for the people of St Mary Street, Exchange Road and Grove Road.
One pub landlady has collected more than 300 marbles that have been fired at her windows over the last year.
People have been hit by the missiles and some residents have reported finding tens of marbles and other missiles in their gardens.
Police say they have received reports of the problem, but the culprit remains on the loose.
It does seem remarkable that this problem appears to have continued unchecked for more than a year.
Surely there is more the police could be doing?
It may not be count as a serious crime but surely it comes high on the priority list of Gwent's Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston, who has made anti-social behaviour one of the key targets of his term of office?
Let's hope the culprit is caught soon before the situation escalates.
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