TWO speed cameras in Verwood and Three Legged Cross have been torched in the space of just over a week.

Police are investigating after the GATSO machine at Ringwood Road, Verwood, was set alight in the early hours of Saturday.

A member of staff at the nearby Verwood Surplus Stores said: “Someone probably got caught during the day and thought they’d come back at night. We don’t get a lot of trouble around here. It was a surprise to see it down when we went out in the morning.”

The previous weekend, the camera at Horton Road, near Three Legged Cross, was set on fire at about 3.35am on Saturday.

Mike Jackson, crew manager at Verwood Fire Station, said: “To have two in one week is very uncommon for this area.

“It almost makes you wonder if it’s an organised thing to get rid of speed cameras.

“The damage to the cameras was quite severe. Certainly the lenses and the glass at the front had completely disintegrated.”

The Dorset Safety Camera Partnership operates 38 fixed cameras across the county.

A spokesman said the Dorset Safety Camera Partnership would like to reiterate that cameras are there to save lives.

“Vandalism is a criminal offence and perpetrators who are caught committing this crime will be dealt with accordingly through the criminal justice system. He said: “Vandalism of safety cameras is wholly irresponsible behaviour that could endanger people’s lives. There is vast evidence to show that motorists who speed increase their risk of being involved in a collision and pose a real risk to other road users.”

Cllr Spencer Flower, leader of East Dorset District Council, said he was shocked by the damage.

He said: “I couldn’t understand how they managed to burn them both out unless someone put some sort of incendiary device in there.

“There are all sorts of arguments about the benefits of having fixed cameras. I think there’s probably more to be gained in having mobile cameras.

“Speed indicator devices may well be more effective in getting people to abide by the speed limit.”