Over the last few months there have been many incidents in the Oundle area, including cars being broken into, suspicious chalk markings left on and around houses, and a pickpocketing incident at Waitrose, where a purse was removed from a woman’s handbag.
The most dramatic incident occurred at the Waitrose store in the early hours of 28 April, when the cash machine outside the shop was destroyed. It is believed that the offenders tried to break into it by igniting it, and fire crews were called to the scene. It is not known whether they managed to steal any cash. This recalls two other smash and grab attacks on ATMs in Oundle that targeted machines at Barclays Bank in 2011 and the Co-op in 2010.
On 27-28 March a number of unsecured cars were interfered with and several small items were stolen. Reports came from residents on Wyatt Way, Springfield Road, Rock Road, Bellamy Road, Stoke Doyle Hill and Benefield Road.
Hemington Neighbourhood Watch contacted the police to report a man selling door-to-door, who was acting suspiciously. The ‘unlicensed door-to-door seller’ was also reported operating in Thurning and Titchmarsh. This man was reported to have gestured that he was deaf and was selling unframed paintings. There were reports of similar incidents in Hemington, Barnwell, Thorpe Waterville, Wadenhoe and Ashton.
Another resident circulated a warning about chalk markings: ‘Anybody who had dogs and lives in Oundle or around, beware and keep a look out! 2 men came banging on our door, in a big white van – drew chalk on our fence and car and looked through our window at our dogs. If you see any white chalk wash it off ASAP!! This happened around 10:30 this morning.’
Northamptonshire police issued a warning asking people to be vigilant about markings left by potential burglars. While this may seem serious there may be a much less sinister explanation. In the second half of last year there were dozens of cases and news articles discussing chalk markings on houses. Some residents claimed to know that the markings were coded messages about whether the household was wealthy, alarmed or had already been burgled. Amidst the widespread furore over the markings, a nick-name even emerged for them: ‘Da Pinchi Code’.
The truth, however, as reported by The Independent and The Mirror, is more mundane. According to South Worcestershire officers, the marks were made by ‘nothing other than utility companies’, denoting potential movement of manholes or positions of proposed new lamp posts. Though there may well be rare cases of people marking houses with a secret code for other criminal colleagues to read, the chances are, wiping off these chalk marks will do little but make a utility worker’s job more difficult.
As for crime statistics, there were 27 reported crimes in December, including five cases of burglary and four cases of criminal damage and arson. There were 29 reported crimes in January, including eight robberies, but only two cases of criminal damage and arson. In February the total count went down to 17, and burglaries and criminal arson dropped to only one case.
William Buchan – 11 May 2016