A SPATE of break-ins has happened at allotments across north Bolton.

Rawlyn Road allotment, Harpers Lane allotment and Shepherds Cross allotments on Elgin Street were all targeted by thieves who used boltcutters to enter sheds

It has led to upset and fear, especially among elderly allotment owners who often tend their plots when there is no one else around.

David Jackson, secretary of the Association of Bolton Allotment Societies, said: “Allotment sites are very vulnerable to such attacks. People believe that sheds and greenhouses contain tools and other items that can be easily carried off and sold on.

“There is also a feeling that communal buildings will contain more valuable power tools, mowers and strimmers. Whilst this may have been true some time ago, most plot-holders and societies have learned from bitter experience to remove tools and equipment from the site when not in use.”

He said the break-ins come in waves and are at their worse at this time of year.

“One elderly lady was working at her Rawlyn Road allotment when she spotted three teenagers in hoodies hanging around in hoodies. She was so nervous that she hid.”

The latest break-ins occurred on successive days at the beginning of this month. They are thought to have happened in the daytime and early evening.

Mr Jackson said: “Such attacks are particularly distressing for elderly and infirm allotment holders who may be working their plots at such times.”

He added: “Thefts tend to be of low financial value, the incidents are scattered and preventative action is expensive and often difficult. All these facts, combined with a police force struggling with competing priorities and resource cut backs, mean that many victims don’t bother to report the offence to the police.

“However, as a federation and a group of Allotment Societies, we urge all plot-holders who are victims of such offences to report them to the police.

“It is only by building up a picture of the frequency and pattern of such incidents that the police can assess the true size of the problem and hopefully then grant it a higher priority for investigation and prevention.”

Individual allotment holders who have had their sheds broken into are working with their local PCSO in a bid to tackle the problem.

Anybody who witnesses suspicious behaviour at allotments should contact police on 101 or call the charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.