Sunday, March 31, 2019

The camper van.

The photo above shows the marine dredger vessel the Sand Fulmar as it travelled up river past Erith, with a load of dredged seabed sand, as it was heading towards the Angerstein Wharf facility in Charlton. Angerstein Wharf is an industrial area and location of a marine construction aggregate and an associated cement facility and freight station in the Port of London, operated by the Cemex company, located on the South bank of the River Thames. The dredged sand is used in the construction industry. Erith gets a lot of passing shipping traffic, and occasionally you will see ship enthusiasts on Erith pier with their cameras and binoculars, especially when a ship of particular interest is scheduled to pass by. If you are interested in learning more about what ships are travelling up or down river, you can visit The Port of London Authority ship movement website here.

Last week the Metropolitan Police announced that they had identified and removed a debit card skimming machine from a cash machine (more properly known as an Automated Teller Machine, or ATM) in Bexley village. Where one has been found, it is highly likely that others will follow. So what exactly is a card skimming machine, and what does it do? A type of fraud which occurs when an ATM is compromised by a skimming device, a card reader which can be disguised to look like a part of the machine. The card reader saves the users' card number and pin code, which is then replicated into a counterfeit copy for theft. ATM skimming is like identity theft for debit cards: Thieves use hidden electronics to steal the personal information stored on your card and record your PIN number to withdraw cash or they illegally copy your account details from the chip or magnetic strip on your credit or debit card when you use an ATM. The fraudster then uses your details to create a fake or ‘cloned’ card to withdraw money from any ATM. The fraud requires two pieces of information, and they have to be gathered separately.  Firstly the scammer needs the card ID details, which used to be stored on the cards magnetic strip, but nowadays in most countries (including the UK) are more commonly stored on the card's embedded chip. A card reader placed over the ATM's real card slot. When you slide your card into the ATM, you are unwittingly sliding it through the counterfeit reader, which scans and stores all the information on the chip. However, to gain full access to your bank account on an ATM, the thieves still need your PIN number. That is where cameras come in - hidden on or near the ATM, tiny spy cameras are positioned to get a clear view of the keypad and record all the ATM's PIN action. The Police advise that users always pay attention to objects mounted on the ATM or located close by. A pinhole or off-colour piece of plastic could give away the camera's hiding place. Some ATM skimming schemes employ fake keypads in lieu of cameras to capture PIN numbers. Just like the card skimmers fit over the ATM's true card slot, skimming keypads are designed to mimic the keypad's design and fit over it like a glove. Be warned.

Bexley Council recently sold off the small green space / park in West Street Erith to a developer. Compared with some of the other open spaces sold off by the council, the West Street site did not raise a lot of objections, I presume as the main users of the small park are street drinkers and people engaging in anti social behaviour. On Monday, some technicians were seen in the park, along with a couple of vans and some towed equipment. At the time of writing the vans and the towed equipment is still on the site. They were carrying out a geological survey of the park, presumably prior to a developer submitting plans to redevelop the site. If you have any detailed information regarding this, please let me know. 

Thank you to the readers who answered my request last week for information about the mysterious old camper van that had been parked outside of the front entrance of Erith Hospital for a number of weeks. I had four people respond with valuable information, and one source, who wishes to remain anonymous was able to supply me with some very detailed and helpful information, which they sent me in a series of Emails on Monday morning. They wrote:- "You'll be happy to know this person has gone. Unfortunately he left behind his human waste. It seems he was just living there, it has been reported to police several times, the council also got told, as did DVLA more than once, it was without tax, MOT and insurance. I believe he was just using it as a base, as they had another van (never there during the day) that would park up and he would sleep in the RV at night. So, mystery solved. In total I believe he lived there for 6 weeks. He has been known to live in a car park in Thamesmead for up to 9 months! I first reported the vehicle to police when I did a search on the internet and found out the RV was without Tax and MOT, the same with his other white van, I reported both to DVLA and nothing much was done, so I called the police, when I did I was told he was the same with other locations, he moves place to place and it seems he only moves when people or himself can't stand the smell! He lets his waste pile up under the RV, it's extremely obvious what it is. The police told me it's known and is uninsured. 2 weeks then passed and still nothing had been done apart from a letter being sent to the home address the RV was associated with, asking for him to tax and MOT the vehicle. Other neighbours complained to all the same places too. My final call was last week, back to the council and they put me through to environmental health, they couldn't do anything. Yesterday while the sun was shining, my son who is 11 was out playing on his bike, he came in and said to my husband "there's a really bad smell coming from that RV, what is it?" Confused, husband went and looked and said it had completely over spilled. I got worried knowing that it's outside a hospital, a doctors surgery as well as the primary school down the road, everyone is at a risk, I was going to call and demand something happen to it today, but I woke up this morning and it made our Monday morning SO HAPPY, seeing he had finally left! Hopefully he won't return. Especially as we now know what we will be in for. When I left home this morning, a road cleaner happened to be driving down, I got so excited, I asked he use his machine to go over that corner where all his "left overs" are, he said he will do his best!" Great news, and thanks to the anonymous reader who also provided the covertly taken photo above of the camper van preparing to leave late on Sunday evening. I know some readers think that somehow I know everything that is going on in the local area, but this could not be further from the truth; I rely on information from readers. Any information on newsworthy issues will always be credited to those who supply it, unless you would rather be anonymous, as the camper van source above has chosen to do. You can contact me in complete confidence by Emailing me at

For many years the former Belvoir Tavern next to Belvedere Station - which was once known as "Belvedere's fighting pub" has lain empty and unused. Efforts to convert it into an African restaurant and night club were thwarted after the place lost its licence in 2010 after a series of pitched battles between rival drugs gangs from Peckham and Deptford which took place both inside the restaurant and in the street outside; on a number of occasions over a hundred people were involved. Shortly after the loss of licence, there was a mysterious fire which destroyed the upper floor of the building; indeed for many months the building was open to the elements, as the roof had been almost completely destroyed. Eventually the insurance paid up, and a new roof was installed and the building repaired. As far as I am aware it has been used as a residential dwelling since, and the bar area has been boarded up and unused. Now the building is due to be demolished after it has been acquired by Christ Chapel Ministries - a church which has been based in Charlton. The church plan to build a two-storey building with two hundred seats on the ground floor, along with a mother and baby room, and one hundred seats on the first floor with associated offices. Five car parking spaces, one disabled parking bay, and five cycle parking spaces are also set to be provided. Whilst it will be good to get the site put to some use after being mostly unused for the best part of a decade, I am aware that some locals have concerns over noise and parking congestion once the new building is open to users. I also wonder how the new Church building will fit in with Bexley council's long term plans for Lower Belvedere, and their desire to have a brand new town centre adjacent to the railway. What do you think? Leave a comment below, or Email me at

A message from The Exchange, the not for profit group who are restoring the old Carnegie Library in Walnut Tree Road, Erith:- "To celebrate The Old Library’s 113th year we are hosting an anniversary weekend on 6th-7th April! There will be a whole host of activities including a party, embroidery and textiles master classes and tile-making. To celebrate The Old Library’s 113th year we are hosting an anniversary weekend on 6th-7th April! Entertainment will include music from eight-man brass band Don’t Problem". For further information on this, and other events taking place in the former library, please click here.

You may recall that last week in the section of the Blog update dedicated to the Neighbourhood Watch reports I mentioned that one particular observation by a Neighbourhood Watch member who saw some suspicious activity in the Erith Pier Gardens / Wharfside Close whilst he was approaching his parked car. I am now able to expand and explain what the person saw. The individual, who chooses to remain anonymous, wrote to me with the following account:- "A rather peculiar event occurred near Erith Pier Tuesday night I thought your audience would be interested to read. As I approached Morrison's car park I spotted a man in a high-vis jacket apparently setting fire to documents and other paraphernalia just off Wharfside close. This went on for quite some time as he gathered more materials from the back of his old vehicle, walking casually back and forth. I became particularly alarmed when he pulled what appeared to be a Jerry can at which point I thought it best to call the fire brigade just in case it escalated to something more serious. I'm unsure of what he was trying to achieve, or why he would do it in such a high trafficked area - nothing particularly jumped out at me for a justification. I have to say this is one of the more unusual events I've experienced in north-Erith. I have attached a video still I took, hopefully they can frame the scene for you". Thanks to the anonymous contributor; the event was certainly concerning, and it makes one wonder about the mental state of the person setting the fire only a few metres away from residential housing.

Now for the weekly local safety and security updates from Bexley Borough Neighbourhood Watch Association. Firstly from Barnehurst ward:- "Good news, no burglaries to report on Barnehurst Ward. There have been two theft of motor vehicles. The first one occurred on Thursday 21/03/2019 between the hours of 07.00pm and 09.00pm in Hurstwood Avenue however Police spotted this bike being wheeled out of a property in Belvedere and subsequently seized the vehicle to return to its original owner. On Saturday 23/03/2019 in Pennine Way a white Ford Transit registration number YR57 JZM was stolen. Also reported was a theft from motor vehicle in Midfield Avenue on Monday 18/03/2019 which occurred overnight. Tools and a bunch of keys were taken from the vehicle. On Thursday 4th April 2019 at 4.00pm in Barnehurst Golf Club we will be holding a community contact session. We are keen for residents to come along to hear about what we do day to day on the ward and would like to encourage residents to join our ward panel meetings. The team will be happy to explain what this meeting entails should anyone be interested". Belvedere ward:- "On Thursday 21/03/2019 the team discovered a house had been broken into on Getrude Road. The rear door glass had been smashed and entry gained. An untidy search had taken place with drawers pulled out. The occupants were on holiday at the time. We have had reports from B and Q and ASDA about a group of youths causing a nuisance inside and in the car park of both stores. It seems like the youths are one and the same judging by CCTV images. We have managed to catch up with five of the youths. They were searched as it was suggested that one of them may be carrying a weapon. No weapons were found. The others are still being a nuisance. We are trying to time our patrols to catch these annoyances. If anyone has issues in either store please either contact the security teams in each or call Police on 101. A motorbike was stolen from an address in Caldy road on Monday 25/03/2019. The motorbike was found the following day by Erith SNT in Church Manorway and reunited with its owner. Our next Community Contact Session will be on Wednesday 10/04/2019 at 13:00 inside Starbucks, Clydesdale Way". Bexleyheath ward:- "We have had one residential burglaries on the Ward this week, in Leysdown Avenue, Bexleyheath, where tools were stolen from a shed at the bottom of the garden. the suspects were disturbed and dropped the tools nearby as they ran off. Please see the link below regarding keeping sheds or garages secure. . We had a vehicle stolen in Heathfield Road, where a staff member took a vehicle without company permission. The driver was arrested for drink driving, no insurance and taking a vehicle without permission. We had a theft from Motor vehicle in Long Lane, where number plates were stolen from the rear of the vehicle. Some good news, a vehicle was reported stolen from outside an address in Belvedere Road the owner then contacted police stating they had found the vehicle parked in a street nearby, they had forget where they had parked the vehicle. There was a GBH in Christie Close, where male had a single stab wound to his leg, no suspects have been identified for this as yet. A young man was dealt with for possession offensive weapon, where he was arrested after a fight, the male was seen to be swinging a belt during the fight. The Premier Inn and cinema car parks continue to be an issue with youths causing damage and smoking cannabis, the team take a robust approach in the area and this week there has been at least (10) ten stop and searches for cannabis and article to cause criminal damage. Smart Water - the team has been in Wenvoe Road offering residents Smart Water property marking kits, this area recently suffered from a spate of shed burglaries. Two males have been arrested in connection with these burglaries". Crayford ward:- "This seems to have been a week for criminal damage to motor vehicles for which there seems to be no obvious reason. On Tuesday 19th March between 07.35 and 17.30 the window of a vehicle was smashed whilst parked in Old Road close to St Josephs primary school. On Thursday 20th march between 18.50 and 19.10 all the windows of a vehicle were smashed whilst parked in Bexley Lane. On Saturday 23rd March between 11.00-14.30 a vehicle had “bulls eye” damage to the windscreen whilst parked in the underground car park at Town Hall Square. The front off-side window was smashed and the driver's door forced open on a silver Ford Puma whilst parked at Woodfall Drive. On Tuesday 26th March at approx. 20.00 masked Males were seen trying to gain access to a black BMW X5 whilst it was parked at Alcock Crescent, they were disturbed so their intention is not known. Front and rear number plates were stolen from a Fiat Jet whilst parked at Church Hill between 15.00 on 22nd March and 13.00 on Sunday 24th March. A catalytic converter was stolen from a Honda whilst parked outside Miller and Carter at Bourne Road during the daytime of 25th March. A white Seat Leon with the number plate KR68HKJ was stolen between 18.00 on Thursday 21st March and 10.00 on Friday 22nd March whilst parked in Burgate Close, the vehicle was believed to be locked and secure. Between 18.00 on Monday 18th March and 07.00 on Tuesday 19th March a large quantity of building materials were stolen from 94 London Road. An attempted burglary occurred at Lea Vale, date unclear, the owner had difficulty opening and locking the front door and believed it had been tampered with. It is believed that entry was made to a flat at Keats House in Bexley Lane through an open window, nothing stolen or disturbed on 19th March. We will be at the Age Concern meeting at Crayford Library on Friday 5th April between 11.30-12.30 giving some crime prevention advice".

Erith ward:- "Good news - A Stolen motorbike recovered from Erith industrial estate (image above) and owner has been informed. Our next Community Contact Session is Friday 29th March, 2pm at Costa coffee Erith. Around the Sandcliff Road area we have had 2 burglaries and one attempted, all where from gaining access from rear alley way through the garden in to the house – you can make your house a lot more secure by having a motion light solid back fences or even cctv, you do not have to spend a load of money, have a walk around your garden and try to spot any weak points. We are always happy to come around to anyone's house and offer security advice, just contact via email -" Northumberland Heath ward:- "Good news this week no burglaries have been reported to us. One report of criminal damage to a motor vehicle in Mill Road at 2am on the morning of Sunday March 24th. The vehicle was driving in Mill Road when the car was approached by a group of males, believed to be drunk. One of the males kicked the wing mirror and a bottle was thrown at the vehicle causing damage to the windscreen. The team assisted with immigration and environmental officers with a warrant at Darent Industrial Estate this week. Arrests were made for immigration offences. A metal structure has been fixed to a wall in Northumberland Heath Recreation Ground. This specific area has been a hotspot for drug and ASB crime for years and its hoped the structure will help in deterring large groups from using this area as meeting place. This is just one tool which may help deter this issue as we have already had CCTV in the area and increased patrols and stop and search here".  Slade Green and Northend ward:- "One crime of note in the last week was in Canterbury House, Boundary Street. The whole estate is pretty much empty as re-development starts very soon but over the weekend suspects gained entry to Canterbury House and took old piping and wiring from 60 of the 70 flats inside. We are working closely with Orbit Housing to try and identify anyone involved and to prevent the other blocks from being targeted before the building work commences. 3 positive stop and searches in the last week resulting in drugs being confiscated plus 2 Community resolutions issued and 1 is due back for interview soon. A knife was found close to the garages at the back of Alexandra Road and handed to one of our officers by a resident. There is no indication that this was used in any crime but it is now safely locked away. PCSO Mark assisted PCSO Adam from Erith SNT in recovering a stolen motorbike found in bushes on the Thames pathway at the rear of Tesco.Com in Erith. The bike has been taken to be forensicated (I guess this must be Police speak, as I have never heard of the word until now) before being reunited with its owner. PC James and PCSO Mark have given a personal safety talk at Inspire Community Trust in Whitehall Lane which is a day care centre for people with disabilities. 20 or so attendees enjoyed the talk and were given some tips on how to keep their belongings safe as well as themselves. If you would like a copy of the Little Book of Big Scams which has advice on all these matters, please let us know. PC James arrested a male in Frobisher Road on Weds evening who was in possession of a large quantity of drugs. He was later charged with possession with intent to supply (PWITS). Our next Community Contact Session is on Saturday April 6th from 9.30 in the cafĂ© in Forest Road". Thamesmead East ward:- "Good News - The male who was awaiting sentencing for criminal Damage and Public order offence last week has been given a Community Order for 12 months- unpaid work for 80 hours, to pay the total of £300 costs to Crime Prevention Service and £85 to Victim Services. No Burglaries this week. Crimes This Week - Theft of Motor Vehicle: Mangold Way Wednesday 20/3/19 between 5pm and 9am Victim stated the vehicle was stolen and she no longer has the keys no further information; Criminal Damage to Motor Vehicle: Southmere Drive. Tuesday 19/3/19 between 10pm - 6:45pm Wednesday 20/3/19 victim believes someone has deflated car tyre; Criminal Damage to Motor Vehicle: Seacourt Road Saturday 23/3/19 between 3pm – 1pm Sunday 24/3/19 scratches surrounding the entirety of victims car causing significant damage to the paintwork; Arson to Motor Vehicle: Mangold Way Saturday 23/3/19 between 5pm – 1am Sunday 24/3/19 Victim informed by the fire brigade that vehicle was set alight deliberately by suspect/s unknown; Theft from Motor Vehicle: Lensbury Way Tuesday 26/3/19 between 11:30am – 2:35 pm. Suspect/s have cut part of the exhaust system from vehicle victims Catalytic Converter removed".  West Heath ward:- "We are very pleased to say we have had no reported burglaries and only one theft of a hand power tool from a van in First Avenue overnight Monday 25th to Tuesday 26th March between 8pm and 11am. If you would like a copy of our DIY Home Security Survey please email us on or call on 020 8721 2885. Further crime prevention advice is available on We held a street briefing in Heath Avenue at the junction with Marley Avenue where the issues raised were drug dealing from vehicles late at night, off road bikes in West Heath Recreation Ground during school holidays and the large volume of learner drivers in the area".

The end video this week features a family who have recently moved into one of the large houses on the new Erith Quarry housing estate. Please feel free to leave a comment below, or alternatively Email me at

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