The Beetley Crime Wave

One of the many good reasons for choosing this area to settle in, was the lack of reported crime. The chances of being robbed in the street in Beetley are almost impossible to calculate, as it just doesn’t happen. Your house is also unlikely to be burgled; though burglaries are reported, they are almost always in outbuildings. If you own a ride-on mower, or have just purchased some expensive gardening equipment, you might have to take extra care, but it is still a very slim chance. Car theft is so rare, many people do not even bother to lock their vehicles. Parcels are left outside front doors, and remain unmolested until the resident returns. Sexual offences, and drug-related crime are also unknown here, though in the nearby town of Dereham, just over three miles away, both have been reported. It seems that as long as you stay in Beetley, you can rest assured that there will be little or no chance of being the victim of a crime.

Theft of farm machinery, and plant vehicles, that is a problem. This is common to all rural areas, given the cost of a tractor or digger these days. There are farms around, but still little crime reported by them, at least in the confines of the parish. There is hardly even any litter, and I have seen no graffiti in the village, since moving here two years ago. Coming from London, where crime was so commonplace it almost went unnoticed, this is a refreshing change. I recall asking a neighbour about crimes locally, shortly after moving here. He thought for a while, and said that he could remember some broken bottles around the nearby football pitch. That had caused quite a stir, a few years ago.

Last week, this idyll was shattered, by a veritable wave of vandalism. On Beetley Meadows, the Parish Council provide some picnic benches, and assorted seating, for the benefit of those wishing to enjoy an afternoon by the river. This was done at some expense, and was well-used by many people last summer, especially families with small children, who might make a day of it by the shallows. They can relax on the benches, preparing lunch, as the kids splash around with small fishing nets, or use inflatable boats. Last Saturday, a fellow dog-walker brought my attention to one of these benches. It had been set on fire, presumably some time late on Friday evening. They had tried hard, building a pile of sticks under it, before setting them alight, hoping to destroy this bench. What they failed to realise, was that they are made of a resin composite, not wood, so the table top merely melted and charred, but there was no consuming blaze. The result is an unsightly mess, and a distorted, unusable surface.

When out dog-walking today, I was upset to find dozens of daffodils, with their heads pulled off, and trampled into the grass. This was obviously deliberate, as it was too concentrated in one area, to have happened by chance. The display of spring flowers in that area was a delight to see, with hyacinths and snowdrops alongside various daffodils. For some unknown reason, the vandals had chosen to completely denude one large area of flowers, leaving the damaged plants as evidence of their pointless act.

I confess that to a resident of some areas of Manchester, London, and other large cities, this will seem laughable. It is tiny, by comparison to the crime and anti-social behaviour common in many parts of the country. Yet somehow, the fact it has happened at all, in such a peaceful and placid place, makes it worse. Now I make no claim to be a detective, despite all those years working for the Metropolitan Police, but you don’t have to be Colombo to work out a few theories. When something happens that has never happened before, it points to two possibilities. Someone new to the area is carrying out the vandalism; or somebody who was once too small to do this, has now grown up, and beginning to embark on a spree of petty spitefulness.

We need to get to the bottom of it, or Beetley will surely be suffering a crime wave, sometime soon.

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13 thoughts on “The Beetley Crime Wave

  1. Buy shares in a surveillance camera manufacturer as that seems to be the only fix that is provided nowadays!
    I’m always struck by the respect that the children have for their elders in our particular family group and I believe that goes a long way to keeping them on the straight and narrow. However I’m also conscious of how religious Polish society is and wonder if this has any bearing on the behaviour of the younger generation, even though they seem to be abandoning it in there droves as they come of age.

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    1. The majority of the kids here are very respectful, even in the large towns. We noticed this immediately, after the attitudes in London. There is not much to do though, outside of sport, no buses locally after 5pm, and it is all very dark. Boredom and opportunity make vandalism more likely I suppose.
      Cheers Eddy, love to all. Pete.

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  2. It may not be much in the scale of things, but mindless vandalism is just that – mindless. It saddens me to see wanton damage and what you have described leads me to a group of bored teens. As you said maybe someone new to the neighbourhood who hasn’t yet come to terms with country life in Beetley. I’m sure you and Ollie will keep a watchful eye 🙂
    Jude xx

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  3. I hope the person (probably a bunch of kids) is caught soon! When you were first describing Beetley and the lack of crime there, all I could think of was… Hot Fuzz!

    It is really unfortunate when these seemingly small acts of vandalism happen. Maybe some kids feel like they have nothing else to do, and this is a way to try to get attention. When I was a teenager, the village I am from planted a long row of young oak trees by the main road (maybe 20-30 trees). One morning every single one was cut in half – the trees were very young and thin making them easy to bend and cut – I remember the effect of this “small crime” that was a sort of communal sadness. All the trees died. The perpetrators, of course, were some frustrated teens who felt that no-one cared about their existence…

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    1. Sadness is a good word Mari. I doubt that they will be caught though. It is an isolated area, and very dark there at night, with no lights, even ambient light. Not as bad as your 30 trees though, that was large scale vandalism indeed.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Small things like people destroying flower beds, desecrating grave stones or killing cats and kittens tend to have a bigger than usual impact, also disturbing. I lived once in a town where these things once happened and it was an eerie and unsettling experience. Turned out to be an 11 yr old who was lashing out/crying for help. Hope your mystery is solved and your unspoiled place is returned to you.

        We’re finally having a spring day in New England! Sunlight and 40 degrees at 11a.m. What a wealth of warmth! Best to you from New England!

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  4. Pete, I truly fail to understand modern society, where crime is rampant in many places, and is not unheard of in others. My neighborhood is pretty calm, but in the 14 years I’ve lived here, there have been a couple of instances of crime. It’s a gated community, but that doesn’t keep anybody out. Any car or truck can tailgate another authorized vehicle into the small neighborhood.

    Perhaps the uptick in crime can be blamed on lack of proper upbringing and lack of money. Here in the States, many children grow up in single parent homes. There is little or no supervision. And society has liberalized the young to the extent that they no longer fear God or believe in moral values. The other possible cause is lack of money. Sure, the poor want to take things they can’t afford, or destroy things they can’t afford out of spite or revenge. But there are middle class children who want items of luxury, and aren’t willing to earn them, or simply aren’t patient enough to wait until they can afford them.

    Many of these “children” are adults now. And they still haven’t matured. They have no respect for authority, and believe they are entitled because parents, school, and friends convince them they are special and deserving of the best.

    I hope Beetley gets to the bottom of the vandalism. I just wonder if there is any place on Earth where people respect others and their property, and where one can live peacefully and confidently.

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    1. You make some very relevant points David. I also feel that there is a lack of engagement between parents and children, so values such as respect are no longer passed down the generations. Sadly, I have no answers, and don’t believe that anyone else has either.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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