Scary rooftop antics risk life and limb

PCSO Mark Baker and PC Dave Gaskill outside the homes that have been used for free-running
PCSO Mark Baker and PC Dave Gaskill outside the homes that have been used for free-running

Elderly residents have been left terrified by youths running across their rooftops in Leyland.

While the hobby of free-running is being promoted as a sport which should be carried out in an organised, safe environment, some youngsters are taking the craze to dangerous extremes in the town.

Residents living in St James Gardens, Moss Side, have been faced with youths running and jumping across the rooftops of their bungalows, and police are warning of the dangers, and the damage which is being caused to people’s properties.

One woman, who felt too intimidated to be identified, said: “We feel quite vulnerable; it sounds like a herd of elephants running on our roofs.

“It’s happened a few times over the weekend these past few weeks, normally between 6pm and 8pm.

“You’re watching television and suddenly you hear this loud noise on the roof. I had absolutely no idea what it was at first. It was quite scary.

“The second time it happened, my husband went out and he caught sight of some youngsters jumping on next door’s roof.

“He said they looked like they were aged about 11 or 12.”

The 64-year-old added: “We’ve only lived here for six months - we were told it was a really quiet area.

“Apparently, this is the first time something like this has happened around here in about 30 or 40 years.

“I just hope it doesn’t carry on.”

The youths, who have been causing nuisance in the area for the past three weeks, have also caused damage to the tiles on people’s roofs, and eight bungalows in St James Gardens have been affected.

PC Dave Gaskill, from Leyland’s Neighbourhood Policing Team, has warned of the dangers of practicing the hobby outside a controlled setting.

With the Street Monkeys setting up a new academy in Leyland to coach people in the sport of free-running, he says youngsters should make the most of the new facility and refrain from doing it unsupervised.

“Although to some this may seem like fun, it has caused a considerable amount of damage to a number of properties on the street,” he said.

“This is a very dangerous hobby and could lead to serious injury.”

He said there was a similar problem with teens running across shop rooftops in Leyland town centre a number of years ago, but he hasn’t come across the issue involving people’s homes before.

Sean Delaney, of the Street Monkeys, is also annoyed about the incidents.

He said: “It’s very frustrating when people associate this kind of thing with free-running, because that’s not free-running; it’s kids causing damage and being anti-social.

“We’ve spent the last three years trying to teach people that this is not what we’re about.

“There is a worry that people might say this is happening because of us, but I can safely say that nobody from our group would do something like that – we do not promote that kind of thing at all.”

He added: “We want to work with the police if we can, and encourage these kids to come to our sessions to work with our qualified

“We don’t want to see anyone getting injured.”

The police are now appealing for anyone who knows anything about the incidents.

Call the station on 01772 415855 or the police’s non-emergency number 101.