1/4/2009Vigilante Speed Camera Attacks on the Rise Worldwide
Speed cameras in Australia, France and the UK destroyed around the new year.
As government entities around the globe increasingly turn to automated traffic enforcement during tough economic times, vigilantes have likewise increased their acts of opposition, destroying a number of speed cameras from the UK, Australia and France over the past two weeks.
In the UK's West Midlands, for example, only two speed camera were disabled or destroyed between April 2005 and the end of March 2006. In the following year, there were nine attacks. For the year ended March 2008, the number of attacks increased 44 percent to a total of thirteen. The Express and Star newspaper used a freedom of information request to obtain the figures from the West Midlands Casualty Reduction Scheme. The details show that the majority of cameras were set on fire, although vigilantes in West Bromwich also hurled rocks at a camera on Birmingham Road and "pulled over by unknown means" a camera on The Expressway. Most recently, vigilantes used a burning tire to destroy the camera on Bridgnorth Road near Wightwick in November.
Vigilantes remain active in other parts of the UK. A newly installed speed camera on the A46 Laceby bypass in North East Lincolnshire was torched on New Year's Eve -- before the device even had a chance to issue its first £60 (US $90) ticket, according to the Grimsby Telegraph newspaper.
Across the English Channel, vigilantes in France have also been busy. A camera in Clamart (Hauts-de-Seine) was damaged by fire around midnight on December 30, according to Le Figaro. Police yesterday found the twisted and charred remains of another speed camera in Paimpol after it had been destroyed by a gasoline-filled tire. According to Le Telegramme, this marks the fourth attack in two years on the automated ticketing machine on Lezardrieux road near Lesquirnec. France currently has about 2000 speed cameras and officials plan to increase the number to 4500.
In Western Australia last Tuesday, a vigilante grabbed a tripod-mounted mobile speed camera in broad daylight and smashed it against a pole. The incident took place at 4:50 pm on the West Coast Highway in Swanbourne. A speed camera operator hid in his vehicle while the attack took place, only showing himself long enough to take a photograph of the man smashing the camera. Police are furious at the loss of the A$120,000 ticketing machine and have vowed to arrest the man responsible, although he has not yet been identified.