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Families’ victory gets rid of yobs from East London block

PUBLISHED: 18:55 26 May 2010 | UPDATED: 16:05 05 October 2010

FAMILIES have won a three-year battle to get rid of yobs that have plagued their block of flats in East London. They were victims of harassment and anti-social behaviour by youths loitering with drugs and suspected of burglary

By Lynn Hartney

FAMILIES have won a three-year battle to get rid of yobs that have plagued their block of flats in East London.

They were victims of harassment and anti-social behaviour by youths loitering with drugs and suspected of burglary.

But the families at Witham Court in Ruckholt Road, near hackney Marshes, were determined to beat the intruders.

It has finally paid off, after months of working with neighbourhood police in Leyton.

The five youths involved are believed to have been watching residents and looking for opportunities to break into the flats while they were away.

"I had my flat burgled while on holiday," said one elderly tenant. "I cannot prove it, but I know those boys are involved."

He added: "I have lived here with no problems for over a decade and these yobs changed everything."

The gang's unwelcome presence brought crime and fear to the block.

Lance Engelbrecht, a father of a young girl, said: "I was afraid these youths would attack my wife when she was pregnant. I've seen them intimidating people with a vicious pitbull."

The families held several meetings and did not give up what at times seemed a losing battle.

Police stepped up patrols. Better lighting and secure doors were fitted. Security cameras were also installed.

Police finally identified the youths and gave them firm verbal warnings to stop the harassment, or risk being served anti-social orders. The youths have not returned to Witham Court since.

What seemed a small victory for one block, say the families, is proof that yobs can be beaten when neighbours work together and refuse to tolerate them.

Leyton Safer Neighbourhoods Team can be contacted on 020-8721 2037.

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