SHOPLIFTERS are disposing of electronic security tags down drains at a Chester beauty spot, it has been claimed.
Residents living near Grosvenor Park say cunning thieves know the area is not covered by CCTV cameras and can be seen sorting through their loot with no fear of being caught.
Several spoke out about a range of anti-social behaviour issues blighting the neighbourhood during a meeting of the City Community Forum at Boughton Cricket Club on Monday evening.
Besides handling stolen goods, they said they had witnessed crimes including criminal damage to vehicles, drug abuse, drinking and graffiti.
One woman said: “The park is almost as active at night as it is during the day.
There's drinking and people taking drugs. The shoplifters drop the electronic tags down the drains because they know there's no CCTV cameras to spot them.
Drinkers sit under the slides so there are loads of empty bottles there in the morning.”
Police have urged people to report suspicious activity, especially tags being dropped down drains, so they can build intelligence and potentially spring a trap to catch the culprits.
A spokesman for the force's city centre unit told the Leader: “The issue with the tags goes on all over the place, not just in Grosvenor Park, but it wouldn't surprise me if they cut through the park because they know there's no CCTV there.
“We need people to report this so we can build intelligence. If we know where they will be we can wait for them to arrive and stop them. The more intelligence we have the better.”
During Monday's meeting, another resident said the new children's playground had recently been daubed in graffiti.
He said: “It's a tragedy that such a nice new place should be despoiled in this way.”
Councillor Samantha Dixon, who chaired the forum meeting, told members and guests that anti-social behaviour was an “increasing problem” across the city.
The police spokesman said a police community support officer (PCSO) was in regular contact with residents' groups in the Grosvenor Park area, which was not known as a crime hot spot.
Ridding the park of groups of boozing vagrants was an almost impossible task, he said, as police had limited powers.
A spokesman for Cheshire West and Chester Council (CwaC), which looks after CCTV, would not comment on whether a camera was planned for Grosvenor Park.
He said: “The council will be working with police and the local community to address any issues of concern. Once the park is fully open, measures will be put in place to tackle any anti-social behaviour and these will be monitored on a daily basis.”