BUSINESSES in Tavistock’s ‘hidden’ shopping gem of Paddons Row are vowing not to let young vandals affect them.

In the past week youngsters on bikes have ripped down the decorative bunting, climbed up onto the roofs and thrown roofing slates and glass onto cafe decking in the short and narrow shopping lane.

Police are investigating following criminal damage to the lane which runs off Brook Street in Tavistock. Police have confirmed they are looking into the reports.

A statement said: “Decorative bunting was ripped from the outside of Black Cat Elixirs in Paddons Row on the evening of Saturday, 25 May.The incident began at 7.10pm when a group of male youths on bicycles approached the shop and damaged some of the bunting. “They returned around 8.55pm and tore down the remaining decoration. A woman was also verbally abused at the premises. Police are investigating and asking any witnesses or anyone with information to contact them.” CCTV footage from one of the shops shows youngsters ripping down the bunting. The youngsters, in their early teens visited the lane. Having been disturbed by Tanya Cook, the owner of shop Black Cat Elixirs, on their initial foray to pull down the bunting, they returned to rip more down. They shouted foul language and then rode off.

Tanya, who makes cosmetics for sale in her shop, said during an earlier weekend she had seen young lads on bikes with biking helmets on – they had gone behind the businesses and thrown glass and roofing slates onto the outdoor seating area of Mime Cafe. She could not identify any of them because of their helmets.

During the latest incident on Saturday, May 25, she confronted the youngsters and frightened them off: “I shouted at them to stop what they were doing and they just swore at me and ran off. They came back later for their bikes and seem to think the whole thing was funny and treated the bunting as a race finishing line.”

She added: “It’s not just a piece of bunting, this is part of our livelihood, one of several things we pay for to draw customers in. So we take it very seriously.”

Lou Crook, who runs Swan’s Nest craft shop, said: “Not only is this pointless, but costly vandalism to a lovely shopping street, but it’s downright dangerous to climb on the roofs and if any of them had fallen from height, either through or from the roofs, they could have been badly hurt. Really the parents should be keeping an eye on where they are.”

David Hanley, who runs Decodent antiques, said: “We as businesses collectively put a lot of money into making Paddons Row an attractive destination in the town because it is off the beaten track. But we will not let the investment all go to waste just because of some vandals.”

Please contact police online or by telephone on 101, quoting crime reference 50240128034.