Spate of wheelie bin fires in West neighbourhood policing team area
ARSONISTS could be putting lives at risk by setting fire to wheelie bins, police say.
Officers say there have been a spate of fires in Bethune playing fields in recent weeks.
Sergeant Eric Johnstone, of the West neighbourhood policing team, said: "We believe there is a group of local youths who are taking the bins from residents, dragging them on to the field and filling them with waste from a building compound before setting them on fire.
"It has happened a few times in the last couple of weeks. It is very distressing for the residents, who can see the bins on fire and worry.
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"There are a lot of houses around and they are concerned the fires could spread.
"Arson is a serious offence, particularly if it endangers life.
"It is also causing them anxiety and stress not knowing what is going to happen, including if their bin will be taken next.
"For those whose bins are stolen, it is inconvenient and it costs money to replace it.
"One resident has had their bin stolen several times and has had to pay for a replacement every time."
Police have been carrying out extra patrols in the area to try to catch the culprits, who they believe are responsible for further anti- social behaviour in the area.
Sgt Johnstone said officers are also working with Humberside Fire and Rescue Service to try to identify the arsonists.
He said: "By starting these fires, they are also spoiling facilities that are there for them and for others to enjoy.
"After the fires, there is rubbish strewn around, a bin left there and lots of charred grass. It is ruining that area.
"They are putting themselves in danger by doing this, too. They don't know what it is in the bins when they are stolen – there could be aerosol cans or things that give off noxious fumes.
"It is also not good for the fire brigade, who are sending crews to something that has been started deliberately. There are times when their resources are stretched and they could be better used elsewhere."
Although police suspect they know who is responsible for the fires, they are appealing for more information from the community.
Officers have also visited the building compound the waste is being stolen from, to speak to staff about improving security.
Sgt Johnstone said: "We have already visited the homes and families of some of the people we believe are responsible for this and other antisocial behaviour.
"We need information about it, particularly in relation to the fires.
"If they see anybody dragging wheelie bins around at unusual times, acting suspiciously or actually starting fires, we want to hear from them.
"We are working with the fire service and doing what we can to try and identify the offenders who are responsible for this.
"If we get a report of a fire, we will try to attend at the same time to identify any groups of people that are around. Generally, people who do this type of thing tend to hang around and watch it go up.
"There may be people in the area who have no involvement, but we may speak to them to see if they have seen anything.
"Groups have been seen running away from the fires when we or the fire brigade have arrived.
"We strongly suspect some young people of being involved, but I would encourage any members of the public who know anything to give us the information they have."
Anyone with information about the bin fires should call Humberside Police on 101.