Published: 12:11, 11 October 2021
| Updated: 16:28, 11 October 2021
Arsonists have set fire to three beach huts in Whitstable and broken into others in an attack in the early hours which caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage.
Despairing owners say it is the latest in a spate of vandalism they have suffered in the last few months.
The huts were set alight at Long Rock - leaving one completely destroyed and two other neighbouring ones badly damaged and having to be demolished and replaced.
Firefighters were called shortly after 3am and were at the scene for more than an hour tackling the blaze and ensuring the flames did not spread.
Treasurer of the Tankerton Bay Beach Hut Owners Association, David Richards, says more than 20 incidents of vandalism have been recorded in the area in the past couple of months, including to the cafe and public toilets.
Now a further seven more huts along towards Marine Terrace have found to have been broken in to.
"Unfortunately, there is no police presence and we are an easy target," said Mr Richards.
"Even if they catch someone, they will likely only get a slap on the wrist. But these huts are worth up to £70,000 so we are talking a lot of money and stress for owners."
District Police Commander for Whitstable, Chief Insp Mark Hedges said police took offences of criminal damage and arson which impacted residents' lives "very seriously".
He said his officers were called to reports of the beach huts fire shortly after 3.45am as fire fighters tackled the blaze, which is being treated as suspicious.
He added: "We are working with beach hut owners and the local council to improve crime prevention measures in the area.
"Members of our Community Safety Unit also carry out regular patrols of the seafront to deter criminals and identify any vulnerable locations."
A fire service spokesman said two fire engines attended and crews used hose reel jets and main jets to extinguish the flames.
Anyone with any information about this incident to call Kent Police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 11-0087. They can also call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 or complete the online form.