Essex: Police step up patrols in search for bridge missile throwers

POLICE in Essex have stepped up patrols on the A12 near Chelmsford following a series of incidents where vehicles have been bit by objects thrown from bridges.

The announcement follows a spate of incidents in the past year – yesterday a woman had a concrete block and a cat thrown at her vehicle on the A131 at Great Leighs, near Braintree.

Last year, a woman suffered rib and facial fractures when a concrete block smashed through a car’s windscreen near Galleywood, on December 1.

On the same evening, a car passing under Fryerning Lane bridge, Ingatestone, had its windscreen smashed by a large rock. The driver and passenger were unharmed but badly shaken.

Similar incidents have happened over the past year including a spate of cars being hit by objects on the A14 near Trimley St Mary.

Widespread police investigations have been carried out and detectives are continuing appeals for information about any of the incidents or any potential suspects.

Extra patrols near Chelmsford are now being carried out on the A12 and around rural and residential areas on either side of bridges.

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The patrols, both high visibility and covert, will be carried out by local officers, specialist road policing and response units and by officers from the Special Constabulary.

Drivers using the A12 or roads and lanes leading to bridges are urged to be vigilant especially at night and to report any suspicious incidents or people loitering on bridges.

Chief Supt Simon Williams, head of Essex Police’s Operational Policing Command, said: “Essex Police treats incidents of missiles being thrown from bridges on to the road as extremely serious, the consequences of such an act puts road users in danger of serious injury as well as significant delays on the roads

“In order to combat those that wish to put others in danger, Essex Police will be deploying additional patrols to those areas that have experienced this type of incident previously and will prosecute anybody identified as responsible.”

The Highways Agency will be putting up special information signs near A12 bridges in the Chelmsford area to help drivers give a precise location when reporting anything suspicious.

People living near A12 bridges are being asked to be particularly vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to police, especially if they notice any rocks, stones or moulded concrete blocks missing from their front gardens.

If you witness any bridge crimes, call 999.