A private security company boss believes they are turning the tide on the culture of trespassing adventurers in one of the town’s hotspots for ‘urban explorers’ and ‘ghost hunters’.
And now, with the Easter holidays upon us, he is warning would-be intruders - ‘don’t bother’ - after drastically reducing the times owners have been called out to deal with trespassers by 92 per cent.
Aurora Training and Security Solutions, based in Handley Street, Sleaford, took on the contract to protect the disused industrial buildings of the Bass Maltings, off Mareham Lane, in December 2015.
Sam Maney from the company approached property owners Avant Homes, whose plans to redevelop the site have stalled due to access issues, coupled with the withdrawal of Tesco from plans to build a new store and link road.
He said: “I live not too far from the Maltings and could see on a daily basis people were up the towers and climbing around.”
He would raise the alarm but sometimes the police or owners could not respond in time, said Mr Maney.
His company has provided security for local large events such as the Oktoberfest and Heckington Show. They approached Avant Homes and were given the task of securing the buildings.
Former policeman Mr Maney said: “The fence was like Swiss cheese, so we repaired that. Over the course of the first year we saw a lot more activity at school holidays and weekends, so we upped our patrols and caught quite a few.”
The company will send out security patrols in vans and on foot, sometimes with dogs, at random times and for varying durations to keep intruders guessing and Mr Maney says if anyone is caught, their details are taken and handed over to the police and the site owners will prosecute.
He said on an occasion recently one male was caught, then four others emerged, all from Grimsby and Sheffield.
The next day, he said they caught four from Northampton.
He added: “We have deployed electronic security equipment which triggers and takes photos of anyone getting in.
“During the course of the 13-14 months since we have been there, we and the site owners have seen a reduction in calls to attend by the police or others because of reports of trespassers by 92 per cent.”
He put that down to the visual presence of security officers, dogs and the ‘high-vis’ vehicles. As a result he has seen comments on urban explorer sites warning others to avoid the area.
As an added deterrent, Aurora use the site for training. Mr Maney said: “We are there as a health and safety deterrent. That site is lethal. If someone fell from the tall buildings we may not be able to find them in time. It is a nice building but heed the warnings and stay away. There are no ghosts, we have been there enough to know.”
He would be happy to advise with other vulnerable local sites targeted by intruders such as Rauceby Hospital and Heckington Manor if owners are interested. Likewise his staff try to keep an eye out in the town and rural areas on their travels.
However Mr Maney advised:“We are not trying to replace the police, we are an additional tool for them.”