Selhurst allotment-holders are hit by one-man crime wave

Caught in the act: the Selhurst allotments’ one-man crime wave has been caught on camera several times. Do you know who he is?

WANTED: Do you know this man?

The hard-pressed gardeners and veg growers of the Selhurst and South Norwood Allotments have been seeing rather too much of this character since the start of July.

They have had regular visits from this light-fingered chancer, usually in the small hours of Fridays and weekend mornings since July 5.

He usually wears a baseball cap and what looks like an anti-virus mask – though the allotment-holders doubt that this is being done out of any sense of civic duty.

The allotments, near Heavers Meadow, have so far reported more than a dozen thefts of their property, all thought to be by the same man.

And then last weekend, over the Bank Holiday, the situation worsened when – realising that someone is on to him and has been using CCTV to keep an eye on his dodgy activities – the allotments’ late-night visitor resorted to arson, setting light to one shed in an apparent effort to destroy the cameras that had been monitoring his every move. The fire destroyed the targeted shed and one on an adjacent allotment plot.

Little does the perpetrator know, but the cameras are still working…

Croydon police have been informed,  and have received crime reports from all the affected allotment-holders. They have so far visited the allotments twice, although not yet around the times when the unwanted visitor normally arrives.

One of the allotment-holders, who saw their shed and equipment razed to the ground last weekend, told Inside Croydon, “This guy has gone from petty theft to criminal damage to arson in the space of six weeks.

Burnt out: this is all that was left of two allotment sheds after the Bank Holiday weekend’s arson attack

“He needs to be stopped.

“Since the beginning of July, one man has been accessing the allotments during the night and breaking in to sheds. He doesn’t take any tools – he’s just looking for things he can easily sell.

“On one of his visits he stole a small solar panel that I used to charge my phone which cost me about £20. He caused about £250 worth of mindless damage in the process.

“When he visited on the morning of August 30, he finally noticed there was a camera watching him and tried to remove it.”

The allotment-holder has lots more footage, including some showing the thief panicking because he’s been caught on camera.

On one of the CCTV videos, the date stamp appears upside down. The thief had knocked the camera off the shed but didn’t disconnect it, so it just carried on recording.

“This guy is a criminal but he’s not very bright,” said the clearly annoyed allotment-holder, who has made all his video recordings available to the Metropolitan Police.

“He’s clearly too stupid to realise that the internet and the cloud exist. He decided the best thing to do, instead of destroying the cameras, was to set fire to my shed, probably to destroy the evidence. This act also set fire to other sheds on the site.”

The allotment-holders ask that if anyone has any information regarding the intruder and the thefts – perhaps he has tried to sell some of the small items of electronic equipment he has stolen? Perhaps you recognise him? – then please contact the police by calling 101, tweeting @MetCC or by visiting the Met’s website by clicking here.

Keep ’em peeled (and we don’t just mean the apples grown on the allotments)…

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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