A youth worker from Leeds has had the windows in his property smashed and his living room set on fire in Great Horton, Bradford.
Tafazal Mohammed, 56, from Leeds, bought a two-bed property in Great Horton before the pandemic with the intent to fix it up and move in.
Due to the financial strain of the coronavirus and furlough, the property has been sitting vacant since it was purchased a little over two years ago, with Mr Mohammed fixing it up every week since restrictions were lifted in August of last year.
In December, the windows to the house were smashed and in January, the living room was set on fire.
Mr Mohammed said: “Before Christmas, the house had an act of criminal damage done to it, with most of the windows smashed.
“On 21 January, the boards that I put up to cover the smashed windows had been torn down and some people had set the living room on fire. I believe it is because the house is empty and currently looks derelict.
“It is really distressing to say the least, as there is extensive damage to the property. I feel targeted, I’m not sure if someone is trying to devalue my property.”
After discussing the issue with neighbours, Mr Mohammed believes that the damage had been done by young people from the area. “The same demographic of people I’ve helped relentlessly over the past two decades, are the same people who have caused horrible stuff to myself and the property.
“We don’t know who did the criminal damage and arson, but I was told by the police that they spotted a group of around seven or eight young people running off from the property after the arson.”
He added: “I feel let down and feel disillusioned. It is a big word, but I have never felt disillusioned by young people and their future prospects before. We still have young people who do damage, and it seems like, without remorse.”
Mr Mohammed also alleges that the area he planned to move into is a “place not only for criminal damage but also drugs”, he said.
The youth worker has complained that people in the area are leaving litter and waste bags in the area. He said bags of soil have been left in his garden by fly-tippers which he has to remove, which he alleges is used in cannabis farms, from his garden.
He has also had to remove asbestos sheets from the exterior of his property, which can cause gradual damage to the lungs if breathed in.
To counter the alleged illicit activity going on in the area, residents have requested streetlights for an alleyway adjacent to the street, but he says that the Council has told them that there is “no budget available.”
A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We actively enforce against fly-tipping and regularly prosecute offenders.
“Last year we investigated over 2000 incidents, issued over 50 fly-tipping fixed penalty notices and seized five vehicles found to be involved in environmental crime.
“People can report fly-tipping at www.bradford.gov.uk/flytipping or by calling 01274 432111.
“The Council is responsible for providing street lighting on adopted areas of the highway. Any requests for new street lighting columns can be made to the Street Lighting Unit by calling 01274 431000.
“However, lighting levels are determined by national standards and adding additional columns in areas which already have street lighting requires a redesign of the whole street, so this is extremely rare.
“The joint police and council anti-social behaviour team work together to identify and take measures against perpetrators.
“Anti-social behaviour and vandalism can be reported by telephoning the police on 101.”
A spokesperson for West Yorkshire Police, said: “Police took a report of criminal damage on 21 December on Rudd Street.
“Police are also investigating reports of an arson at the same location on 22 January”
Anyone with any information or who witnessed anything suspicious on these days is asked to contact the local neighbourhood policing team on 101 or use the live chat facility at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/contactus quoting crime reference 13220038608.