A LAUNDERETTE owner has issued a warning after receiving reports of children climbing into tumble dryers.
Barry Hopwood, who runs Launderama at Old Milton Green, said he had been contacted by five of his customers about separate incidents.
“These kids are climbing into hot dryers,” he told the A&T. “Anything could happen – they just don’t realise the dangers. They’re so au fait with technology these days I think they could easily get these things going.
“Or say if there’s some money left in the machine, one climbs in and the others shut the door, thinking it’s funny – those machines get up to 160c in no time; they would get severe burns.
“My customers are telling them to get out and often they get a load of verbal.
“I mean they’ve got a new skate park just around the corner, beautiful beaches – quite why they want to come messing around in a launderette beggars’ belief.
“I hear it’s because it’s raining or it’s cold – haven’t they got homes to go to?”
May be forced to close early
Barry, who leaves the premises open to the public between 8am and 6.30pm, said if the antics continue he may be forced to shut up shop early.
“I will have to close at 5pm, which will affect my business and my customers,” he said. “I’ve just spent £20,000 on new dryers – if these kids carry on climbing all over them they’re going to snap the doors off.”
This is not the first time Barry has experienced problems with children at his launderette; last year youths smashed the front door off its hinges, causing £900 worth of damage.
Two years ago, around Christmas time, a group of youngsters were in the place drinking vodka after closing time – the launderette has an automatic locking system – and broke the door to get out.
“They were caught by police because one of them stupidly left their passport in there,” said Barry.
“On another occasion, last spring I think it was, I went to set the alarm, which I did from my car after closing time, and saw a load of them in there.
“They saw me and came running out trying to escape but I collared them. I lined them up and asked them how they would like it if I came into their homes and started turning all the furniture upside down. One of them said, ‘I’ve never thought about it like that’.
“Actually, that group don’t come in anymore but there’s always a new younger group coming up to take their place.”
Business only manned half the day
Barry mans the business between 9am and 1pm, and says it is late afternoon, early evening when the problems occur.
“The baker next door but one is great, he’s always in here turfing them out,” he said. “The kids go in Greggs and eat their food in here – I’m always finding discarded wrappers.”
A new CCTV camera has now been installed after the first was broken by youths.
“I’ve reported the matter to police,” he said. “In the past they have been absolutely fantastic and take this very seriously.
“Now I’ve got this CCTV I will catch them and I will prosecute for criminal damage.”