No barbed wire...it might hurt the thieves, allotment holders told
By Daily Mail Reporter Last updated at 9:26 PM on 09th October 2008
A gardener who fenced off his allotment with barbed wire after being targeted by thieves has been ordered to take it down – in case intruders scratch themselves.
Bill Malcolm erected the 3ft fence after thieves struck three times in just four months, stealing tools worth around £300 from his shed and ransacking his vegetable patch.
But Bromsgrove district council has ordered the 61-year-old to remove the waist-high fence on health and safety grounds.
Demoralised: Bill Malcolm and his fence
Mr Malcolm, who has grown potatoes, onions, beetroot and asparagus on two patches at the Round Hill allotments in Marlbrook, Worcestershire, for the past eight years, said: 'It's an absolutely ridiculous situation.
'All I wanted was to protect my property but the wire had to go in case a thief scratched himself.
'The fence was just a single strand and ringing my property. It was only 3ft high – it wasn't as though I'd dug a moat filled with piranha fish and erected 6ft iron railings.
'The council said they were unhappy about the precautions I had made but my response was to tell them that only someone climbing over on to my allotment could possibly hurt themselves.
Security battle: Intruders have struck Bill's allotments three times in four months
'They shouldn't be trespassing in the first place but the council apologised and said they didn't want to be sued by a wounded thief.
'I told them to let the thief sue me so at least that way I would know who was breaking into my allotment but everything I said fell on deaf ears. It seems as though they are so wrapped up in red tape, they are unable to help me.'
Mr Malcolm said he had been robbed three times since June, along with around 16 of the 50 allotment keepers on the site.
'About £300 worth of tools were taken, including everything from a stainless steel border spade and pitchforks to screwdrivers and hammers,' he added. 'The thieves cut through steel locks on the shed, or broke in through the windows. I caught one lad of about 16 red-handed.
'He dropped the bag of tools and fled, but although the police took a description and finger prints, I heard nothing. Another time yobs broke in and completely trashed my potato and vegetable patches.
'A lot of people, myself included, are growing our own veg to beat the credit crunch. But what's the point if they are going to be ripped up by mindless idiots?
'I take care of this allotment but it's very demoralising to have your belongings stolen and your hard work ruined.'
A spokesman for Bromsgrove council said: 'With regard to the barbed wire, when this is identified on site, we are obliged to request its removal or remove it on health and safety grounds.'
Sergeant Nick Husbands, of West Mercia Police, said: 'We can confirm that five thefts from Round Hill allotments have been reported in the past year.
'These have mainly been from sheds and our advice to allotment holders is not to leave anything of value there.'
Mr Malcolm's plight comes just weeks after Bristol council angered allotment holders by urging them not to lock their sheds in case burglars damaged them breaking in.