Nov 14 2008 by Claire Ellicott, Liverpool Echo
Street of fear
A GANG kicked a pensioner?s door down in the latest in a series of attacks on residents of a Merseyside community.
The masked intruders forced their way into the home of the 80-year-old woman and made off with money and documents, leaving her fearing for her life.
Neighbours said the burglary is just the latest in a string of violent and anti-social crimes in the Wimborne Road area of Huyton that they blame on 12-16 year-old yobs called ?The Wimborne Gang?.
Police and housing chiefs admitted today there was a problem in the area and they were taking steps to tackle it.
The elderly woman, who has lived in the same house in Wimborne Road for 73 years, was at home when her home was attacked.
The masked men pretended that they were from the fire service and had come to put out a blaze, shouting at her to let them into the house.
When she refused, they broke down her door and ordered their terrified victim to ?stay? while they tore through her house. They stole ?200 cash, money the pensioner kept to pay her electricity and water bills, and insurance policy documents worthless to anyone but her.
A neighbour, who was too scared to be named, said: ?She has nothing worth stealing, she doesn?t even own a TV.
?I think they knew she was the only person living on that row of houses and targeted her.
?She?s such a proud and independent lady and she?s just frightened to leave the house now ? it?s really sad.?
Neighbours, too terrified to be identified for fear of reprisals, said she had been mugged at least twice in recent months and, in one incident, a gang of girls had stolen her bag and keys.
And they went on to describe other terrifying incidents including.
An attack on an ice cream man.
A window cleaner beaten with an iron bar.
Damage to cars; homes vandalised while families are in.
Empty houses set on fire up to four times a night.
Another resident said: ?People are too scared to go out, it used to be a nice area and there was no trouble.
?I?ve already been called a grass for phoning the police and I?m scared of what they?ll do if they know it?s me.?
Another added: ?They make our lives a misery and if anyone complains or confronts them they beat them up, slit their tyres and damage their cars.
?Neighbours of mine have had every window of their house put through.
?They strip empty houses of lead and copper and set them on fire, they throw eggs and stones and mud at homes.?
Many of the houses are owned by Knowsley Housing Trust and are gradually being bought up to be demolished as part of the regeneration of the area.
Police said that the youths are attracted to the empty houses, despite the fact that the council clears them and cuts off the electricity and gas as soon as someone moves out.
Anyone with information about the burglary should call Kirkby CID on 0151-777 6582 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
INSPECTOR Paul Sutcliffe, a neighbourhood inspector for North Huyton, said: ?We have had incidents with youths stealing from empty premises.
?A couple of names have been put forward to us and we think we know who the ringleaders are.
?Because most of the houses are empty, the few people that are left in the street can get a lot of trouble. We are increasing patrols and targeting parents so they know where their children go at night.?
A ?priority area?
A SPOKESWOMAN for Knowsley council said: ?North Huyton is one of our priority areas.
?Our focus is on reducing anti-social behaviour by placing emphasis on tough penalties, as well as tackling the root causes of criminality.
?We are not afraid to seek the toughest penalties for persistent offenders.?
She added that although there had been a 29% decrease in anti-social behaviour in Knowsley over the last two years, North Huyton continued to have high levels of anti-social behaviour.