Callous thieves place residents at risk of fir

A BRAZEN gang stripped an entire Belsize estate of essential fire fighting equipment during a night time theft.

The Ham&High understands that a group of people wearing hoods around their faces entered the Chalcots estate in Adelaide Road during the night of December 2 and worked tirelessly until the small hours, making a huge din as they disconnected 38 individual dry risers, used to pump water to the top floors, and took them away.

The gang swept through the four tower blocks on the estate, stealing all the metal heads, brackets and caps from the risers on all the connected floors, rendering the whole system inoperable and placing the 2,500 residents at a far greater risk in the case of a fire.

The risers, which firefighters can use to pump water up to the top floor in the event of a fire, look like brass but they only have a scrap value of �15 each. However, the cost to the council of replacing the missing equipment will run to �25,000.

Conservative Belsize councillor Jonny Bucknell is leading calls to have extra CCTV put into the lifts on the Chalcots estate and is writing to the Home Secretary Theresa May about the issue.

He said: “CCTV has been invaluable on the Chalcots estate in deterring crime. But in order to put CCTV in the lifts there has to be a change of legislation. In order to make them covert, you can only do it for short periods currently.”

The London Fire Brigade has now put special measures in place including a power pressure engine track to pump water up 22 floors.

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However, in the event of a blaze fire crews would still have to carry rubber hoses up the 22 floors.

Conservative activist Nigel Rumble, who has made inquiries into the damage caused, says it could be as late as the new year before essential repairs are carried out. Elsewhere, more than �16,000 worth of paving stones have been wrenched from Camden’s streets by thieves.

Rogue contractors have been stealing the valuable York stone paving slabs from streets across Camden – with a massive 149 square metres of stone being ripped up in the last six weeks.

York stone is a precious component of Camden’s pavements and is very costly. At �110 per square metre to replace, the recent thefts will leave the council �16,400 out of pocket.

Camden police are urging residents to monitor York stone near their homes and businesses.

Labour councillor Sue Vincent, Camden Council’s environment boss, said: “Not only do the thefts present a clear danger to pedestrians, but in times of such financial pressures we cannot always make like-for-like repairs.”

Residents are warned not to approach contractors removing stones but report any suspicious activity to the highways engineering team by calling 020-7974 2015.