Gangs of Coalisland children raiding properties for bonfires

Gangs of youths in Coalisland are raiding residential properties and commercial premises for bonfire materials.

The anti-social behaviour includes lighting fires close to residential homes, putting lives at risk.

SDLP Councillor Malachy Quinn has raised the alarm about the out-of-control behaviour. He said he had received complaints from residents and business owners that youths have been trespassing and stealing property for their bonfires.

Meanwhile police in Dungannon have warned of a crackdown against anti-social behaviour in the run-up to Halloween.

Commander for Mid Ulster, Superintendent Mike Baird, said: “Police always seek to exploit all opportunities to address anti-social behaviour, working closely with local residents and other agencies. This work also includes enforcement - making arrests – and education – helping our young people understand the impact this type of activity can have on the victim.”

Councillor Quinn said: “I have had complaints about fires being started close to homes causing smoke problems and creating concern among residents. While I know it’s mainly children doing this, they have to realise the danger they are putting themselves and others in when starting these fires as well as taking property that does not belong to them. I urge parents to rely this message to their children. Building bonfires is a massive part of the Halloween period and we all did it when we were children but we did not steal property, nor go on to private land without permission to take things and burn them. It’s simply unacceptable.”

He continued “The issues of burning tyres is also a concern as we all know the serious damages it can cause to not only the environment but to our health as well. People need to be careful and start thinking of the effects burning these things will have on other people and get past how big the fire will be.”