On the night of Wednesday the 8th October, a residency in Selly Oak was subjected to an attempted break in by two men wielding what local residents described as “large axes”.
At around 9:30pm, two men arrived outside the property of 129 Teignmouth Road carrying the offensive tools. One of the men tried to climb through an open window barefoot before reportedly being forced back by a female resident sitting at a desk in the front room of the house.
After failing to enter the property from the front, the two individuals moved to the back of the house, breaking the fence of a neighbouring student residency.
The incident was over relatively quickly, since the two individuals were likely aware that onlookers were intent on alerting the police to what was going on. Four police response cars and one van soon attended the scene.
After the police arrived, however, it transpired that the property in question was not a University of Birmingham student house but was in fact a cannabis factory. This led police to note that this was likely a targeted attack rather than a random act of violence against the student community.
According to the police, approximately 200 cannabis plants were found inside the house upon arrival at the scene, with almost every room filled up. There was so much that it was reported it was even being stored under the beds in some of the house’s bedrooms.
Anyone with further information is encouraged to contact the police by calling 101 or through their Live Chat service which can be found at www.west-midlands.police.uk and operates between 8am and midnight.
This story serves as a harsh reminder that although students make up the majority of the population of the Selly Oak area adjacent to the university, it is also home to a number of local residents. And although the vast majority of non-university residents are ordinary people, the high crime rate inevitably breeds the occasional incident such as this one.
But should students allow incidents like this to affect their studies? Or make them afraid? I believe it is important to reiterate that this was a targeted attack which had little to do with the student body apart from the fact it happened within the student resident community. Although students should always take precaution when securing their houses and travelling around the area, it is not a factor which we can allow to affect day to day studies.
This event has also highlighted the power of social media when avoiding crime in Selly Oak. Within minutes of the incident, students had already posted on the Guild page Fab N Fresh, warning others to be vigilant and to stay away from the immediate area if possible. Posts on the Facebook page invoked a wide response in a short space of time, allowing students to contact their housemates and check in to see if their friends were safe. Without social media, it is entirely possible crime in the local area could be significantly higher, with it acting as a deterrent to those who would want to cause potential harm.