Farnham’s Neighbourhood Police team is calling for the public’s help tracking down two young men responsible for a vandalism rampage in the town centre on Sunday.
No fewer than 11 properties – businesses and homes – are believed to have been targeted in the early hours of Sunday, with many windows smashed by what appears to be projectiles fired by a catapult.
The most high-profile offence saw the front atrium of the Farnham Maltings shattered, leaving the venue with a clear-up bill of around £5,000 – with the repairs expected to cost as much as four times that figure.
Niki Hanmer, communications and marketing manager at the Maltings, said: “There was no damage inside but it is devastating the mess that they made of the atrium.”
Other premises hit included Laly’s chemist, Loaf and Sweet Lizzy’s in Downing Street and Guitar Village and The Prial in West Street.
The police have come under fire from some for not responding to the incident fast enough. But a local police officer told the Herald many of the victims did not report incidents – leaving his colleagues to trawl through Facebook pages to work out which properties were affected.
As a result, Sgt Michael Knight is pleading for businesses and the public to work with officers to track down those responsible.
Borough commander, Inspector Sam Adcock, confirmed five incidents were reported over the weekend, and officers have since found another six, with a potential link to a seventh being investigated.
The Herald understands the incidents took place between 4am and 7am – but Insp Adcock added “exact timings are still being established”.
Police officers were collecting information on the incident on Tuesday morning but one Farnham shop owner and resident has criticised the overall response of the police for being too late.
“When the culprits see, after so many hours, that no one comes looking for them, let alone has caught them, they’ll be telling their mates they’ve got away with it – and that’s a dangerous message to send out,” he said.
The shop owner, who did not want to be named, blamed the situation on the absence of police officers in the town since the closure of the police station.
But Inspector Sam Adcock, Waverley borough commander, added a police unit was deployed to the incident “on the night” and passed on their initial investigation to the neighbourhood team.
Sergeant Michael Knight also stressed that the police have acted on reports of the incident, visiting known victims on Tuesday, and appealed for more victims to come forward.
Insp Adcock said: “We would encourage anyone who has been a victim to report these incidents to us either online or through our live chat function.
“My team are committed to investigating these incidents and will do everything we can to identify the suspects and take appropriate action. We would ask that no images of the suspects are circulated on Social media at this time.”
CCTV footage from the Maltings clearly showed two male offenders, aged around 14 to 17 years old, attacking the building with a catapult at 4.45am.
The police cannot release images of these suspects as they are believed to be aged under 18.