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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: U.K. Police Helicopters Vandalized

PUBLIC SERVICE | POLICE

A disturbing trend is occurring in the U.K. Police helicopters are being vandalized. On June 8, just before about 2 a.m., a Eurocopter EC135 used by the West Midlands Police (WPD) was seen ablaze on its pad at Elmdon Airport in Birmingham. Air traffic controllers called in the local fire brigade, but not before the aircraft had "suffered extensive damage," said WPD Assistant Chief Constable Gary Cann. "We do suspect that this is an arson attack, which is why we launched an arson investigation immediately." The WPD says the front end of the EC135 appears to have been set on fire.

Meanwhile, the Surrey Police Department’s (SPD) EC135 has been vandalized twice; on October 30, 2008 and April 30, 2009. After both attacks, major thefts occurred in the area; leading police to suspect that the damage was designed to keep them grounded. For instance, after the first attack on the SPD EC135, four masked men used sledgehammers to smash their way into Boshers Fine Jewels on Chobham High Street. They stole jewelry worth £300,000 ($500,000).

That’s not all, On May 16, 2009, a gang of "gypsies" are alleged to have smashed the SPD helicopter with axes after jumping a four-foot wall at Fairoaks Airport where the aircraft is based. The Daily Mail newspaper said the attack came after the gypsies’ camp was repeatedly overflown in a search of stolen goods. "A police source said last night: ‘The gypsies were furious because they kept getting buzzed by the helicopter,’" reported the Daily Mail. "’But no one expected this level of violence.’"

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