MULTIPLE cars have been smashed in Weymouth in an early hours vandalism spree.

Several vehicles in the Westham area were targeted. The trail of destruction included car windows and fences being smashed along Norfolk Road, Links Road, Devon Road and Rutland Road.

Several incidents were also been reported in other nearby streets.

Police are investigating the damage which is thought to have happened between 2am-3am on Sunday.

Some residents raised concerns that criminals were free to operate under the cover of darkness as the streetlights are turned off in the small hours. The former Dorset County Council decided to switch off the lights in most residential areas at midnight several years ago in a move to save carbon emissions and reduce energy costs.

Tanya Jones of Norfolk Road had the back window of her Volkswagen Passat smashed.

She said: “I have lived here for years and have never had any trouble like this. You just don’t expect it to happen to you.

“The street lights go out and crime jumps up. If the street lights were on this wouldn’t have happened.”

Colin Knight came to help his landlord in Rutland Road after his car was also targeted.

He said: “It’s the second time this has happened now.

“It’s down to there being no street lighting past a certain time. We are paying council tax, why can’t they put on the streetlights? Can’t they do what other areas are doing and getting LED street lights?”

Maxine Park had her car’s windscreen smashed on Norfolk Road.

She said: “There was quite a lot of the community out here on Sunday going around.

“My car has been done and my neighbour had hers smashed as well.

“I don’t know if it’s because of the street lights but it is really really dark when they aren’t on so maybe.”

Local councillor Christine James lives on Norfolk Road but her car was not damaged.

She said: “People are so angry and I’m angry for them too.

“I think I’m going to have to go to the council about the streetlights. There’s a lot of people here and their cars have been damaged.”

“If they find out who did it then they really need a proper punishment, not a slap on the wrist.”

“I’m tired of hearing that anti-social behaviour only happens on the seafront. It’s in residential areas too. “Too many (police) resources are being directed (to the town centre and seafront) and away from residential areas.”

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “We received a report on Sunday, October 6 of criminal damage to a number of vehicles and a garden fence in the area of Norfolk Road in Weymouth.

“Officers attended and enquiries into the incident are ongoing. No arrests have been made at this stage.”

IN RESPONSE to concerns about crime levels rising while streetlights are off, Dorset Council said the policy of part-night lighting has been ‘stringently researched’ and the findings suggest that energy saving street lighting adaptations have not increased area level crime in the neighbourhoods that were studied.

The council referred the Echo to national research from 2015 conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in partnership with UCL, which suggested part night street lighting was not associated with road traffic collisions or crime.

The study suggested that local authorities can safely reduce street lighting at night, saving energy costs and reducing carbon emissions.

Researchers analysed 14 years of data from 62 local authorities across England and Wales, including Dorset, which had implemented a range of reduced street light strategies.

At the time, Cllr Peter Finney, the county council’s Cabinet member for environment, said: “The findings from this survey support the results of an earlier Dorset Police investigation. By turning off street lights at midnight (GMT) we are looking at initial savings of at least £300,000 per year. This money can be used to provide essential services for the tax payers of Dorset.

“Although there is no actual link between crime, traffic collisions and turning off streetlights in the early hours, many residents still have a fear of these happening. This research by an independent body should help to dispel those fears”