A SHARP increase in juvenile vandalism, thefts and disorderliness in Craigavon brought an equally sharp comment from the new city police. They blamed the lack of parental control for the upsurge back in 1974.
At least 11 juveniles were arrested on charges of robbery and malicious damage. Four were due to appear at local court and four people were arrested after patrons at a bar turned on two police constables.
Juvenile delinquents left an estimated £13,000 trail of destruction behind them in Craigavon during the previous week. About £12,000 worth of damage was caused on a building site near Boilie level crossing several miles outside Lurgan when a gang of young people used two mechanical diggers as dodgem cars.
A digger was used to overturn a large earth moving machine and to demolish part of a derelict level crossing hut. Damage was caused on other building sites and homes were broken into.
But Craigavon police were confident that they had rounded up the majority of those responsible for the incidents.
Detective Constable Bert Johnston said: “Police in the new city have been very successful recently in making persons amenable for such crimes, but at least 90 per cent of it can be blamed on the lack of parental control, particularly at school holiday times.”
He also hit out at the apparent “insecurity” of building sites where a lot of the vandalism took place. In many cases there were no watchmen, site huts were left insecure and expensive equipment stood as “an invitation” to the vandal.
Two of the nine arrested had absconded from training school and three others were involved in the theft of a staple gun from a building site in the Rathmore area. It was understood the three would be appearing at a Juvenile Court at a later date.
Their arrest caused some anxious moments for Craigavon police. A patrol stumbled across the youths who were hiding under a bridge with the gun. The patrol were under the opinion that they would be fired on and were preparing to return fire but just in time discovered the type of weapon confronting them. A second such gun stolen some time before was still out-standing.
Two other juveniles were also arrested for their part in the theft of about £14 from a breadserver in Drumbeg.
The bar incident, in which four people were arrested on disorderly behaviour charges, happened when two police constables tried to enforce the liquor licensing law at 11.30pm.
It was reported that the majority of the crowd turned hostile when approached by police. Abuse was shouted and in the ensuing disturbances four person were apprehended. Others ran off, but the police were continuing with their investigations.