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Gravesend resident frustrated as yobs break into Palmer Avenue flats owned by Moat

A resident living in a block of flats says he is fed up with yobs who have been breaking into the building for nearly a year.

The anti-social teens often enter the property in Palmer Avenue, Gravesend, sit on the staircase and leave behind cigarette butts, vapes and laughing gas canisters.

Bernard Ashie, 50, says the issue first began in November last year.

“I would go downstairs and there would be a group of boys sitting on the staircase,” he said.

“I said to them politely that this is a flat and residents live in it - it’s not an empty building so they shouldn’t be there and how were they getting in, in the first place,” he said.

One of the boys told him they had been buzzed inside by his grandmother.

Empty vapes are often left by the staircase
Empty vapes are often left by the staircase

“I said ‘take me up there and show me’ but I knew they were lying,” said Bernard.

He said he wouldn’t always see the boys, as he works, but there would be evidence that they had been there.

“I would notice cigarette packets or laughing gas canisters and empty vapes on the floor - that’s how I would know they had been in,” he explained.

Bernard set up a camera near the staircase which shows footage of boys in groups of as many as 10 at a time breaking into the building by pulling open the door themselves.

And, there are multiple groups, says the field service engineer.

“At first those doing it were older teenagers - about 16 to 17 and I ended up having an argument with them and called the police but when they got here the boys were already gone.”

After confronting them he says the boys never returned, but then a new group of younger teens aged about 12 to 13 replaced them.

The latest footage obtained from his camera is the third group to enter the property

Litter left behind by the yobs
Litter left behind by the yobs

As well as leaving litter behind, the yobs broke into residents’ letter boxes and hurled “vile” abuse at Bernard when confronted.

He says: “Out of the people in the other nine flats, I was the only one getting rid of them because the others are afraid of them.

“I’m the only one fighting with Moat [housing] to get the door sorted.”

Residents’ letter boxes were also broken into
Residents’ letter boxes were also broken into

Bernard says he has sent pictures and videos to the housing association but the situation has still not been rectified.

“Moat keeps on sending engineers who keep on saying the door is secure,” he added.

“But, it’s not - it can be pulled open by kids without any effort.”

Head of Kent neighbourhood services at Moat, Colin Kavanagh told KentOnline: “We want our customers to always feel safe in their homes, so we take reports of forced entry into their buildings very seriously.

“We will also be fitting a more secure entry system to the block of flats which has helped to prevent similar problems for our customers in surrounding blocks.”

Multiple groups of teens have been breaking into the building
Multiple groups of teens have been breaking into the building

Moat say they have also been working with Gravesham council’s Community Safety Unit to see what next steps can be taken.

Mr Kavanagh added: “Without evidence to identify the group, it has been difficult to take further action, but we are now in a position to support Kent Police and Gravesham’s Youth Services in engaging with the group.”

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