A120 traffic damage: Police carry out daily 'reassurance patrols' in Birchanger Wood for a week
Police on quad bikes and on foot were involved in a week-long operation in Birchanger Wood after new reports of windscreens of vehicles using the A120 bypass being damaged.
Teams of officers carried out "reassurance patrols" from 4pm until 11pm each day from Monday to Sunday (Feb 15-21) around the woodland bordering Bishop's Stortford's Parsonage estate.
Individuals are alleged to have been throwing or catapulting stones and bricks at A120 traffic since 2019. Some cars have been damaged up to five or six times.
The police patrols covered more than 35 miles day and night as part of Operation Platypus, a joint initiative between the Hertfordshire and Essex forces.
Last week the Indie reported that Stortford motorist Glenn Alexander offered a reward after his BMW X5 suffered a smashed windscreen on January 28 from what he believed was a brick launched by a catapult. He offered £500 for information leading to conviction of the culprit; following donations, the reward totalled £1,300.
More drivers have been reporting damage. Richard Millns' BMW X1 suffered a smashed windscreen, spraying the interior with glass, when his car was hit 20-30 metres from the Stansted Road roundabout as he was driving towards the M11 Birchanger Green services at 6pm on Sunday February 14.
"There was an almighty sound, then we realised the windscreen had been hit," said Richard, of St Michael's Mead.
He said that the projectile was not a stone or brick and he was certain that it was not roadside debris. Ddue to the angle and degree of accuracy, he believed a pellet gun or air rifle had been fired from a distance.
Peter Hopson contacted the Indie to say his car windscreen had been hit on the A120 between the Stortford Fields and Stansted Road roundabouts at 6.15pm on Friday February 12.
Sgt Theresa Funes-Walker, from Stortford police's Safer Neighbourhood Team, said the reason for the Birchanger Wood operation patrols was to prove or disprove the incidents. She revealed police had consulted ballistics and firearms experts and it was considered "highly improbable" that this was the cause of the damage.
She warned anyone who might be responsible for hurling projectiles at vehicles that the offence would be seen as "grave" as it could result in death.
Incidents can be reported by calling non-emergency number 101 and asking to be directed to the relevant police force. Alternatively, they can be reported online.
Essex: For incidents on the bypass near Birchanger Woods go to https://www.essex.police.uk/ro/report.