GANGS of teenagers are “dicing with death” by camping on top of one of Southampton’s tallest tower blocks in the dead of night, the Daily Echo can reveal.
Horrified security guards discovered youths had set up a makeshift camp on the roof of Albion Towers in the St Mary’s area and were carrying a laser device which could have blinded approaching aircraft pilots.
Now shocked tennants and community leaders have condemned the trespassing youths as “putting lives at risk” at a block which is on a major city flightpath.
It comes as security teams step up their investigations to hunt down the youngsters and prevent anyone else from getting to the summit of the 16-storey block - which overlooks St Mary’s Stadium and is undergoing refurbishment work to paint it in Saints’ red and white colours.
Southampton City Council housing chiefs have warned that any tenants allowing people to get on to the roof could be evicted from their homes.
The gang was caught sleeping on the roof at 1.07am on Tuesday, July 19, after complaints from neighbours.
Wardens dispersing the group - who are understood to have climbed up through upper floor flats and were carrying a long range laser pointer.
Neighbours say there were around five youngsters on the roof and claim at least two people were also up there on another occasion, Charlene Allen, 31, who lives on the top floor had raised the alarm, and said: “I heard lots of banging about. We had a look and there were about four or five teenagers camping up there.
Recalling another occasion she said: “They were above my window and sat above where I sleep and that worries me.”
Her partner Pete Wyatt, 35, said: “There were quite a few teenagers up there. It was the council neighbourhood warden who got them off the roof. The youths had big rucksacks, food and drink. There was no sign of alcohol, it was pop.”
Neighbour David Blue, left, said: “The children are dicing with death. I heard the teenagers had been spoken to and had not taken the incident seriously.”
Bargate ward councillor John Noon, above right, said: “This is very dangerous and they are putting their lives and others at risk. We have to find out who these people are and take precautions so it doesn’t happen again.”
Housing chiefs immediately sent letters to residents in flats 131-150 revealing that the youths had gained access through a flat rather than a gated entrance in the stairway which is secured with double digitally locked doors, or via scaffolding set up for workers carrying out the refurb.
It warned that their actions are “extremely dangerous” and the laser pen could have caused a “major incident” if directed at aircraft.
It stated that the youths had been “undeterred” about the seriousness of the incident and had “considered their actions humorous” when confronted.
A council spokesman said the authority’s housing services are working with concierge staff and the police to identify the trespassers.
He added: “Such illegal and reckless behaviour puts lives in jeopardy and could result in the criminal prosecution of those involved.
“We have informed AlbionTowers residents on upper floor flats that any person that is helping people gain access to a roof—or other secure, off-limits areas on council housing property is in serious breach of their tenancy and at risk of losing their home.
A police spokeswoman said: “Police received reports at 1.07am on Tuesday, July 19 of people possibly sleeping on the roof at Albion Towers on Golden Grove. Police alerted the concierge service who manage the security and safety of the site.”
Additional reporting by Charlotte Callear, Shannon Stones and Ellie Cotten