NEIGHBOURS have been “living in fear” of a gang of unruly teenagers.

Former police detective Jackie Smith said people in The Avenue and Collingwood Road in Goring have been “terrorised” for the last 18 months and subjected to intimidation and torment.

She told how her neighbours, especially elderly women and disabled people, were constantly targeted by a bike gang of up to 15 youths.

The 64-year-old said: “I’ve lived here for almost 20 years and we moved here because the neighbourhood was safe.

“I have watched this group grow and become more obnoxious.

“They broke wing mirrors, banged on windows, slashed car tyres and disrupted traffic by playing chicken.

“They have been seen with crossbows, frightening the disabled, and my husband and I’ve had to replace our car tyres 12 times in the past 18 months.

“Some of my neighbours are elderly and quite ill. One of them is living with stage four cancer and she was too scared to sleep at night.

"She would sit at home standing guard with a hammer in case something happened.

“Another neighbour is a disabled gentleman who is using a wheelchair.

“His daughter told me the gang had filled up one of the bins with ‘crap’ and tilted it, so when he opened the door the rubbish would fall on him.”

Ms Smith served as a frontline detective in the major crimes unit for Surrey Police. She said the community felt let down as the police had failed to respond to their pleas for help.

She had also contacted her ward councillors asking for assistance.

She said: “We reported incidents to police but they did not make a connection to the series of crimes happening in our neighbourhood.

“My husband and I have installed a £600 motion-sensing spotlight for security.

“But through persistence, police have finally responded to us and in the past few days they have sent patrols.

“The gangs haven’t returned and now, when I look outside the window I can see people taking their dogs out for a walk.

“It just shows that if you take a stand results can happen.

“I understand that austerities have affected many agencies but we need a response and police presence.

“We think the gang may have moved on to another neighbourhood.

“My advice is to document incidents, take photos and videos if it’s safe and ask police to link the crimes.

"Make you note down every crime reference number when you report an incident.

“I would ask for a street light to be left on at night."

Sergeant Craig Burgess of Worthing Prevention Team said: “We are aware of the concerns from residents in regards to criminal damage and anti-social behaviour in Castle Ward, Worthing.

“Patrols have been increased in this area recently and this has seen a reduction in the number of incidents of this type.

“We believe the group involved are aged between 12 and 17 and have been reported to have targeted vulnerable members of the community.

“No one knows their neighbours like members of the community and we are appealing for people to work with us and get in contact if they witnesses any anti-social behaviour.

“This advice should also extend to parents or guardians who have a responsibility to know what their children are doing and ensuring they are no causing criminal damage or anti-social behaviour.

“Having attended a community meeting last night November 7, it has also become apparent that a number of incidents were not being reported to us.

"It is vital that members of the public get in contact with us to report matters of this nature to ensure our resources are targeting the areas at most risk of harm.

“We are urging everyone to report online or by calling 101.”