Edinburgh crime: Balaclava gang believed responsible for blue badge thefts in Edinburgh

A disabled driver has told how his car windscreen was smashed and his blue badge stolen in broad daylight in a quiet city street.
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Robert Taylor believes a gang of youths, wearing balaclavas and riding bikes was responsible. Three other vehicles with blue badges were targeted in similar attacks in another street nearby at around the same time.

Mr Taylor said: "I think they check out the area, see if there's a disabled parking bay then they know there's a badge there. Then they ride up, smash the window, steal the badge and they're away. You've not go time to do anything."

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He said he saw youths wearing balaclavas riding around frequently. "You can't see their faces because they've got balaclavas on. They've got trial bikes and also electric bikes –I'm thinking it's the electric bikes they sue for the stealing because if they drove up on one of these noisy ones you'd hear them coming a mile away."

He said the attack on his car took place around 4pm one afternoon. “Stealing badges from disabled people – what's the world coming to? I don't know how much they get for them."

The theft of Mr Taylor's badge and the other three, all in the Stenhouse area, took place in July.

He said: "It was about a month later when the police phoned me. They said it was happening in Chesser and Slateford as well.

Robert Taylor's window was smashed and his blue badge stolen around 4pm one afternoonRobert Taylor's window was smashed and his blue badge stolen around 4pm one afternoon
Robert Taylor's window was smashed and his blue badge stolen around 4pm one afternoon
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"The police said it was guys from Wester Hailes and Sighthill. They said they know who it is but they can't do anything about it. They don't challenge them when they're going about on their bikes because they've not got crash helmets on."

Mr Taylor said it had cost £600 for a new windscreen. "It took a week to get it replaced because the Autoglass guys were so busy. They said there had been quite a lof of similar incidents and out in West Lothian as well. Now I hide my badge and just put it up when I need it. I don't display it because it'll be stolen."

There have been several reports of incidents involving youths wearing balaclavas in the Capital in recent months.

In one incident a female driver was surrounded by balaclava-clad teenagers after she stopped her car in Stockbridge. They tried to steal her bike from the back of the vehicle before she drove off. The woman described the situation as “really scary”.

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On Monday afternoon last week, a motorbike instructor was accosted by male youths on electric bikes while he was driving. They attempted to kick him off his bike, as well as circling him and his client as they drove towards Cameron Toll roundabout.

A man was allegedly hit on the back of the head by a youth on a motorbike in Roseburn. A balaclava-clad gang threw ketchup over stunned performers at a gathering in the Meadows before speeding away from the scene on motorbikes. And youths with balaclavas reportedly stole a bike in the middle of the night from a Marchmont street.