YOBS have gone on a wrecking spree in homes once occupied by doctors in Blackburn.

Groups of up to 15 teenagers have been gathering in Infirmary Close, opposite the old hospital, to break into the houses and flats owned by East Lancashire Hospitals Trust.

They smashed windows, ripped out fire places, smashed down doors, set mail alight, ripped up floorboards, pulled out wiring, threw mattresses downstairs and burnt furniture left in the properties. 

More than 10 homes have been targeted since doctors left three weeks ago.

Residents living close to the street said the problem had become so bad over the last few days they feared for their own properties.

Mum-of-two Diane Hawkins, 23, of Ivy Street, Blackburn, which backs on to Infirmary Close, said: “Whenever a house is left derelict around here the local kids pounce on it and break in.

“It makes me scared to leave my own house in case they get in here while I’m out.”

Fellow Ivy Street resident Tammy Carrington, 34, said: “The kids have caused a real problem over the last few days.

“I have had to call the fire brigade and the police several times after spotting smoke and flames near the old doctors homes.

“The kids have been throwing furniture out of the windows and then setting it on fire. Its disgraceful, the parents should be doing more to stop their kids acting up.”

The properties are due to be auctioned in Manchester next month by The Auction People.

PC Scott Boast, of South West Blackburn Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “We have received many complaints over the last three days and one resident even managed to catch the youths on film with their mobile phone.

However, the footage is not clear enough to make out faces.

“I now urge anyone who knows anything about the damage to contact police.

“In the meantime we have increase patrols.”

The cost of the damage has been described as ‘extensive’ by East Lancashire NHS Hospital Trust and is expected to run into the thousands.

Martin Morgan, director of estates and facilities, said: “The trust can confirm that we are aware of break-ins to a number of trust properties around the Infirmary Road area in Blackburn. The properties are empty and are currently up for sale.

“The properties have been secured and the police are investigating the incident.”

Ewood ward Coun Maureen Bateson said: “The fact young people have felt it necessary to cause so much damage to these properties is totally unacceptable.

“It is a shame the owner of the property didn’t learn from all the damage that was done to the old Infirmary building. If these properties had been secured properly this could have been prevented.”

Anyone with information about the damage should call police on 101.