A dozen Peterborough parks and open spaces have come under attack with the culprit suspected to hold a grudge against the city council.
An individual carrying an electric saw is believed by police to be responsible for the shocking spate of vandalism at many of the city’s most popular spots over the past fortnight.
Children on half-term this week are unable to use benches or play equipment at many parks, while memorial benches have also been destroyed with memorials thrown into the lakes.
Officers carried out covert patrols at Ferry Meadows last weekend, with an official police account tweeting that they were on the hunt for a person dubbed ‘The Carpenter’ by locals.
However, with no CCTV or witnesses available police are asking the public to keep their eyes and ears open in case they catch the culprit in action.
Sergeant Warren Bottell, of the city’s Prevention and Enforcement Service, said the person responsible was using a “specific modus operandi.”
He told the Peterborough Telegraph: “Our thought process is this is probably an individual causing widespread damage across the city using a power saw of some description.
“My personal view is we have an individual person with a grudge against the city council and wants to harm it in some way, not physically but financially.
“I do not think it’s connected to a group of yobs.”
Sgt Bottell said he does not believe the public are at risk from the person causing the damage. He stated: “There is no suggestion the person has approached anybody or threatened anybody.
“I imagine the person would not want to be caught so it’s unlikely they will provoke anyone.
“If the public are able to whip their phone out and get a few snaps and send them in that would be brilliant, but if you see him or her than call 999.”
Sgt Bottell added: “There are more patrols planned for this weekend. That’s all the police can be doing as the offences are so widespread.”
The first publicised vandalism took place at Ferry Meadows just over a fortnight ago, with trees broken off, the backs of benches sawn off and the safety ropes in the Badger play area cut through.
Since then further attacks have followed both at Ferry Meadows again and at a number of other Peterborough parks and open spaces.
Damage was carried out last week at the The Gannocks, in Orton Waterville, Werrington/Walton Rec, Glinton Park and benches near the rowing lake.
The weekend also saw Central Park and Fletton Rec targeted with the crime trail then moving to Crown Lakes Country Park in Haddon Road and the Middleton Road Recreation Ground in Yaxley suffering.
At the latter, the toddler play area in the main field has been vandalised with the culprit damaging wooden posts, which are for walking on, and the wooden hand rail for the small slide.
Amanda Rose (33) lives in Yaxley and regularly visits the play area with her daughter Ruby who is almost two.
She said: “We couldn’t believe it when we visited the play area on Tuesday and found that someone had vandalised the equipment.
“My daughter loves to play there, as do many other children in the village, so it is such a terrible shame this has happened. She’s only small, but even she looked confused by what had happened.
“I hope that anyone who knows who did this reports it to the police as it’s just so senseless.”
The Nene Park Trust, which runs the country park, said CCTV cameras have been donated following the recent vandalism.
A Peterborough City Council spokesman said: “There have been incidences of vandalism in city parks including Central Park and Fletton Rec.
“Amey manage both these parks on behalf of the council and estimate that there is nearly £4,000 of damage across these two sites alone.
“This includes damage to seven benches and a maintenance shed in Central Park.
“Further vandalism has taken place this week at Eye Green Nature Reserve with fences cut and saplings damaged.
“At Glinton Park there has been damage to benches and play equipment as well as to young trees.
“Saplings have also been damaged at Itter Park and Welland Road Rec.”