Halloween is often associated with pranks, whether it be jumping out and scaring someone, toilet papering a tree, egging a house. Most of these pranks are inconvenient for those they effect, but come with little overall harm. Unfortunately, in recent years these pranks have been escalating out of control. Now, every year, especially around Halloween and bonfire night, vandals have been setting wheelie bins on fire.
Wheelie bins are used for storing waste and are often kept near homes. Often times it only takes one match to set the entire bin on fire. Once lit, the fire spreads quickly and many describe the fire as if the bin has imploded. The thick plastic isn’t enough to hold the flames, and the fire often spreads to nearby houses.
In 2006 alone, there were nearly 30,000 wheelie bin fires in the UK. 29 people required hospitalization due to the fire and there have been six deaths from this so called prank.
Police are taking the wheelie bin fires very seriously, stressing that the vandals are not committing a harmless prank, but arson. Anyone caught setting the bins on fire will be charges as such.
Many residences keep their wheelie bins in front of their home. This comes with both pros and cons. On the one hand, a fire will be much more noticeable if it happens in the front of your house. Your neighbours and anyone driving by will be able to see the flames and call for help. On the other hand, keeping a wheelie bin in plain view may attract vandals. For this reason, many have begun to move their bins to the back of their homes.
Over the Halloween weekend however, three wheelie bins were set on fire. These bins were kept in the back of the house. It’s unknown if these fires are linked to one another.
With bonfire day approaching, a holiday known for it’s flames, police are concerned that there will be even more wheelie bin fires breaking out. Police are encouraging residence to keep their wheelie bins away from the house if at all possible, not up against the building. This way, if your bin is set on fire, it will have less chance of spreading to your home.
If possible, residences should keep their bins behind locked gates. This makes it more difficult for the vandals to target the bins.
Vincent Hart, a landlord from the Bromley Cross area, has lived in the area for 30 years. He claims that the wheelie bin fires were never a problem up until about 18 months ago. Fire-fighters agree with this claim, stating that the area has been targeted several times in the past six months. Hart has requested more police presence to help deter the vandals.
Other residents in the area agree, saying that the vandals are scaring their children and putting their homes at an increase risk for smoke and fire damage.
As the number of bin fires increases, local residents are asking for more security cameras to be placed around the homes and areas most often targeted. The theory is that, if vandals know they’re being watched, they’ll go elsewhere to commit these juvenile pranks. It will also help to get a clear image of the vandals, helping to lead to more arrests.