Editor Matt McDonald interviews Laurence James on his recent run-in with intruders in his back garden.
Over the past two weeks or so, there have been a series of burglaries and break-ins in the student-dominated St James area.
Matt McDonald catches up with 2nd year English student and Vic Street resident Laurence "LJ" James about his experience with trespassers.
MMc: So LJ, talk me through your quiet Sunday afternoon.
LJ: Well, at about 4.30pm, I was getting ready to head out to the gym. I glanced out of the window and saw two kids sitting on the shed roof out the back of the house.
MMc: What were they doing?
LJ: Just sitting there on the shed roof, pointing out houses to each other. They looked about 16, 17ish.
MMc: So how did you react?
LJ: My housemate Dusty started filming them on his phone, for posterity and whatnot. They'd clearly been garden hopping – how else would you get there? So we called the police, who arrived within what seemed like a minute.
MMc: Then what happened?
LJ: The kids headed downhill through the gardens of Vic Street. The police were coming from the top of the hill, with maybe 8 big Alsatians? As I'm sure you know, there's no obvious way out at the bottom of Vic Street, so a Devonshire Place resident, a local, caught them in his garden.
MMc: Presumably he wasn't best pleased?
LJ: I heard him calling them "chavvy wankers"? So the police called on the houses in the area to follow up their investigation. The kids were caught with bolt cutters on them, so I don't know whether they can be charged. Literally the shittest burglars I've ever seen, just sitting on a shed roof in broad daylight.
MMc: There were 341 burglaries between February and December of last year within a two-mile radius of your house. Do you think Vic Street in particular attracts this sort of crime?
LJ: Yeah…I mean all of the gardens have low fences, which is really pretty poor. I've spoken to friends I've got living up the road, who were scared about how easy it is to get in. The police officer I spoke to after all this said that this time last year there were 5 burglaries a week round here? Don't know how true that is, he also said 15% of all burglaries in Exeter affect student housing.
MMc: On the whole, how did you feel the police dealt with the situation?
LJ: Exceptionally well, yeah. I mean there was all that controversy a couple of years back about their crime prevention initiative, where they went into people's houses to show how easy it was, but in my experience, they were brilliant. We were just lucky they were in the area!