Elderly couple speaks out after attempted intruder avoids justice - but were street lights to blame?

Anne and Joseph Law suffered an attempted break-in at their bungalow earlier this month.
Anne and Joseph Law suffered an attempted break-in at their bungalow earlier this month.

An elderly Louth couple have condemned Lincolnshire County Council’s policy on night-time street lighting, after an attempted intruder was able to flee from their property without being identified or caught.

Joseph Law (81) and his wife Anne (75), who live in the quiet cul-de-sac of Stockwith Drive, were rudely awoken by a young man attempting to break in through the front door of their bungalow in the early hours of August 14.

If the lights had still been on, we’d know what he looked like and we could have told the police which way he ran off.

Mrs Law

When confronted through the bedroom window, the young man - who is believed to have been under the influence of drugs - admitted he was trying to enter the property, and took off his trousers before continuing to try and break into the house.

Mrs Law called the police, who quickly attended the scene - but by then, the young man had fled into the night.

Mr Law said: “He was drugged up. I wanted to go and confront him outside, but you never know if they might have a knife or something like that.

“The police were very good, the two officers were here really quickly which is reassuring - but the lad had already run off by then.”

Mr and Mrs Law have a video intercom system to monitor guests at their front door, but this is no longer effective after dark due to the county council’s night time street lighting policy - meaning that they were unable to identify the culprit.

Mrs Law said: “We didn’t even see which way he ran off to because there’s no street lighting at that time of night.

“If the lights had still been on, we’d know what he looked like and we could have told the police which way he ran off. He could have gone anywhere.”

Mr Law added: “If those lights had been on, he would not have stood there like that.”

Lincolnshire County Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We were sorry to hear about this incident and we hope the residents are okay.

“I can assure you that we carefully considered the impact of part-night lighting before it was introduced, and lights have been left on in areas with a significant record of night-time crime.

“We continue to monitor the situation, but so far we have seen no evidence that the changes have led to an increase in crime, a view supported by Lincolnshire Police.

“Over the last few years, the council’s funding has been dramatically reduced and we can simply no longer afford to do everything we’ve done in the past. And the money we’ve saved from the street-lighting changes has meant we’ve been able to protect other vital areas, such adult care, the fire service and highways maintenance.”

When informed that Lincolnshire County Council and Lincolnshire Police stood by their previous positions on the street lighting policy, Mrs Law said: “They’re not going to admit, but we know - and the police officers know - that the lights make a difference.

“It did hinder the police officers to not have the street lights on. If they had been on, they could have probably seen where he ran to.”

Mr Law added: “It’s something we’ve highlighted, and we’re only doing our best.

“We’ve never had anything like this in our street before. Regardless of what they say, the lights are switched off and now this has happened!”

A Lincolnshire Police spokesman told the Leader: “The male had left before our officers arrived, and there have been no arrests. There has been no change to our position on street lighting.”

• If you have any information, or saw anything suspicious in the area at around 2am on Tuesday August 14, call police on 101 and quote incident 32 of August 14.