Residents in part of Cardiff say life has become a ‘living hell’ after a spate of anti-social behaviour involving a group of teenagers throwing fireworks.
Over the course of several weeks, there have been numerous incidents in St Mellons – east of the city centre – where residents say the youngsters have deliberately aimed fireworks at their homes, their pets and most shockingly at people.
The situation has become so bad in the area that some people say they are too scared to walk their dogs or leave their homes.
One victim, Chanise Ackerman, who confronted the teenagers, had a firework thrown at her car – which had herself and both children inside.
A shocking video – taken on Tuesday, October 27, – shows a firework hitting the bottom of Chanise’s car before causing large clouds of smoke to appear as a group of teenagers watch on.
“It’s just hordes and hordes of boys, it’s been going on for weeks,” said Chanise.
“My mum was complaining that people had been letting fireworks off right outside her flat so I have been keeping an eye out.
“On Tuesday we went up there and caught them doing it, and that’s when I started to film them. They didn’t like that and so threw a firework at the car.
“I was so angry and disgusted to be honest with you, I had my kids in the car with me.”
Chanise, 26, has lived in St Mellons her whole life and said she had never seen anti-social behaviour like this in the area before.
“As angry as I was when it happened, I’m scared as well. I do get wary going out on my own as I don’t want to bump into them.
“There’s a subway I used to be able to walk under – I won’t do that now.
“It’s not right that they are able to get these fireworks and do this.”
A second resident, who wished to remain anonymous, also said their car had been hit by a firework while they drove with their child.
“I thought I’d go nuts and shout at these idiots but I drove home terrified and had to take my anti-anxiety medication from the shock. I haven’t needed that medication in a long time,” they said.
“Every day something is happening. It’s really starting to affect people – people are scared to go out, especially elderly people.
“I’ve been here 20 years and never seen anything like this”
One resident, who also wanted to stay anonymous as she was concerned for her safety, said a firework was thrown at her dog outside Tesco in the village in broad daylight.
She said: I was waiting for my partner outside Tesco with my dog, and I saw a large group of boys letting off fireworks a few metres away.
“They did see me and saw that my dog was extremely frightened by the first firework. I decided to walk away from them and wait closer to the shop.
“After my partner came back from the shop they set a firework in our direction which resulted in it exploding right under our feet.
“My dog was terrified, and the loud bang hurt our ears, it’s a miracle that none of us was seriously hurt. The group of youths then ran off into the field and carried on setting fireworks off for the rest of the evening.”
One resident, who wished not to be named, said fireworks had been aimed at her house – to the extent that smoke was coming into the kitchen.
“It’s just unreal, they’re everywhere at the moment,” they said.
“On Sunday afternoon, I was in the kitchen and a firework came across the wall and into the back garden. It was so close to the house that smoke was coming into the kitchen.
“My daughter ran upstairs to look out of the window to see if she could see anyone and said there was a group of around 14 people.
“It’s terrible and keeps getting worse.
“I have mobility problems and so I’m already vulnerable and this is just awful.
“They are doing it on purpose, they’re aiming at homes and cars in people’s drives. With me they put fireworks on my front wall and fired them right at the house.
“I was terrified, the kids were all crying.
“We’re all terrified to go out, it’s a living hell we’re all scared stiff off them. I’m already dreading Halloween.
“It’s terrifying and it’s getting out of hand.”
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Several residents in the area said they believed the teenagers were getting the fireworks from a nearby ‘What!’ store which was offering a click and collect service.
However, store manager Emma Roberts denied this was the case. She said: “There are definitely no youngsters buying fireworks from our store.
“We operate a strict challenge 25 rule and there’s no way we would risk losing our licence and shop by selling to anyone underage.
“I can definitely say they are definitely not getting them from our store.”
A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: “Our officers will continue to be visible in our communities to help detect and prevent anti-social behaviour and to remind everyone of their obligations under the current legislation.
“Welsh Government legislation currently restricts residents of south Wales from leaving their homes without a reasonable excuse and from meeting with anyone outside of their households. Welsh Government has “strongly advised against” traditional trick or treating in order to curb the spread of the virus.
“Our annual #OpBang campaign seeks to remind the public that Halloween and Guy Fawkes Night is Not Fun For Everyone, and with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic concern and anxiety is understandably heightened for some.
“Our officers will continue to be visible in our communities to help detect and prevent anti-social behaviour and to remind everyone of their obligations under the current legislation.
“Misuse of fireworks is dangerous and can have lethal consequences.
“Police officers will follow the policing style which has been adopted throughout the pandemic of explaining the rules and encouraging people to comply.
“We encourage parents to know where their children are and ensure they’re abiding by the law, to help ensure everyone can have a safe and enjoyable Halloween and Bonfire Night.
“Anyone who sees or knows of the misuse of fireworks should contact our non-emergency number 101.”
On Thursday, October 30, several household bins were also set on fire in St Mellons.
While it is unknown as to whether the incident is linked to the fireworks, South Wales Fire and Rescue Service confirmed the fire was started ‘deliberately’.
A spokesperson said: ‘At approximately 8:50pm on Thursday, the 29th of October, 2020, we received reports of a refuse fire in Trowbridge, Cardiff.
“Crews from Roath station attended the scene and extinguished the fire.
“The incident concluded at approximately 9:02pm and at this time the incident is suspected to have been deliberate.”