Littering in The Lanes could be more than meets the eye

Ilfracombe High Street

Posted on: 12 February 2018

A litter problem at The Lanes in Ilfracombe has suddenly increased and could be linked to suspected ‘identity theft’ from rubbish bags in the town.

A number of incidents of bags of domestic refuse being removed from outside Ilfracombe homes have occurred in the last two months. The same black bags have later been found in quiet lanes off the High Street, having been opened and emptied.

Homes in Torrs Road, St Brannocks, and surrounding streets have been targeted during the night. Devon and Cornwall police are now exploring the possibility that the thefts are motivated by an attempt to establish peoples’ personal details for criminal means.  North Devon Council’s street sweepers and Ilfracombe Town Council’s cleansing operative have been called in to clear local footpaths of up to ten black bags of litter at a time, strewn in confined areas, and the police and council are working together to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Neighbourhood Officer for North Devon Council, Ray Jones, says: “We are working alongside our police colleagues to ensure increased attention to the area, and looking at all the ways we can improve informal surveillance in these streets and backways. Local residents and members of the public may well provide the best chance we have to bring an end to this activity but I would also be interested to hear from businesses that may have CCTV footage of entry points to the Lanes.”

Executive Member for Environment, Councillor Rodney Cann says: “It is a shame The Lanes have attracted so much litter and dog fouling over a long period of time, and we would like to remind the public that immediate fixed penalty notices can be issued to those who offend. This recent spate of activity certainly warrants greater vigilance and will undoubtedly lead to more significant sanctions if those responsible are held to account.”

Identity theft is a crime most commonly associated with digital communications and hacking, yet unwitting householders also possess a ready supply of information that can be valuable to thieves, especially  credit card and bank statements. Devon and Cornwall Police have issued advice to households on steps that can be taken to remove or at least reduce the risk.

Donna Woolway, Police Crime Prevention Officer from Devon and Cornwall Police says: “Please be mindful of what personal information you are putting in your rubbish bags.  If your information ends up in the wrong hands you are increasing your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft.  Please cross shred all personal mail and ensure that you keep your identity safe.”

More advice on how to prevent identity fraud is available online If you have any information about these incidents please report it to Devon and Cornwall Police by calling 101. Alternatively get in touch with the council’s environmental protection team online at or by phone on 01271 388870.

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