One all-too-common story on this board in recent weeks has concerned the alarming increase in thefts from tents at festivals big and small.
Members of the Association of Festival Organisers (which includes the likes of Guilfest, Trowbridge, Cambridge Folk Festival, Larmer Tree, Towersey and many other smaller festivals) have also been discussing this problem in their own e-group.
They've confirmed that gangs of tent-robbers seem to be systematically targetting festivals. Gang members appear to be buying festival season tickets so they have wristbands and can more easily blend in with the crowds. It seems they often arrive early, set-up their own tents, monitor movements around the campsite and identify the softest targets and easiest areas to attack. Many of the robberies take place on the first night of a festival when campers are more likely to have decent wads of cash in their tents.
The AFO members are pooling their own knowledge and experiences in the hope of identifying effective strategies for combatting this problem next year. More security patrols, better lighting on campsites and other measures may help but given the tent-robbers appear to be buying season tickets and wearing wristbands some conventional security measures such as better perimeter fencing probably won't make any difference.
Ideas from e-festivals members for tackling this problem based on our own experiences will be welcomed. Many Festival Organisers attend the Association of Festival Organisers Annual Conference in November and the more constructive suggestions for combatting thefts from tents that can be made by then, the better for us all.
Cambridge, for example, handed every motorist parking in the Festival car parks this year a Police Notice advising people not to leave valuables in cars. The Notice stating valuables had been removed from a vehicle could be clearly displayed in the vehicle for the weekend. Maybe we need similar Notices for tents and maybe Festivals, like hotels, will have to start offering some form of safe depository for valuables.
More of the larger Festivals are arranging for Cash Machines on site meaning festival-goers can withdraw cash when needed over the weekend instead of arriving on-site with a couple of hundred quid stuffed in their back pocket. Of course you still have to keep your cash card secure....
Maybe huge campsites should be divided into smaller compounds making it easier to watch-out for your neighbours and harder for tent-robbers to blend in with the crowds and roam around unnoticed.
Different wristbands for each sector of a campsite might also help.
The problem is growing though it's nothing new. I was robbed of all my cash at a Festival in Lancashire back in the 1970s (thankfully by a thief with a conscience who left my wallet with coach ticket behind) but it's bugged me for the past 28 years to know how the f*cker did it and anything that helps stop others from suddenly finding they're stuck in the middle of nowhere with no cash or cards should be welcomed by us all.