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  • Martin Kroupa

Aftermath of arson attack on our pest control business car

Czechmate Pest Control’s emergency response car had been parked by an employee of my business on the doorstep of my home in Stevenston, North Ayrshire at midday on Friday and was torched by arsonists around 2 am the following morning - 21 April 2018, just 1 hour after the employee checked on it the last time.

Police Scotland adamant they will not investigate arson

Despite I notified the police about internal investigation within my company had determined a cause of the fire was unlikely to be accidental and urged them to investigate an arson attack (Please also read my post of 22 April - Pest Control Emergency Response Vehicle Set Ablaze), local police in Ayrshire decided to adamantly blame their inaction (refusing to investigate alleged arson) on the firemen who came that night and put the dangerous fire successfully out.

What is wrong with the police?

I have had own experience of poor performance by the local police last year when they decided not to investigate an owner of a Staffordshire bull terrier who’s dog had attacked me. Owed to my previous experience being a dog handler and trainer of service dogs in Czech Republic years back, I was able to dodge and ward off several attacks by this dangerously out of control Staffordshire bullterrier to make it walk away from me (although myself lying on the ground) at the end, despite the odds of my poor health due to a bleeding artery on the kidney tumour I then had. I was afraid that other members of public or even a child could be mauled by that dog when I reported this to the police (who came to see me bud did nothing else otherwise to prevent it from happening again). Following this dreadful experience, it was frightening for me to watch the same black staffie accompanied by another one of beige colour left roaming the streets freely for another couple of months during which they reportedly chased at least two other people and their children.

The North Ayrshire Council

When I was troubled by the Staffordshire bullterriers, or rather by their negligent owner and by the police ignoring this problem (affecting myself as well as others in the street), I looked up to my local authority in North Ayrshire for help, but I was told by the council that their dog warden had been in the street and assessed the staffies were friendly with other people and dogs hence one of them attacking me is a one off can be disregarded.

What the UK law clearly says about out of control dogs but the police and North Ayrshire Council interpret for themselves differently?

Out of control dogs

Your dog is considered dangerously out of control if it:

  • injures someone

  • makes someone worried that it might injure them

A court could also decide that your dog is dangerously out of control if either of the following apply:

  • it attacks someone’s animal

  • the owner of an animal thinks they could be injured if they tried to stop your dog attacking their animal

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

My thanks go to the firemen who responded to an emergency on 21 April 2018 and put the car fire out quickly. Although there were no flammable or explosive materials in the boot (petrol was likely poured on the front) of the parked car, I appreciate their good work because the dangerous fire was maliciously started in close proximity of occupied houses with people, including children, sleeping inside.

Request for information under FOI

Having been fobbed off by the police I resorted to request information about the car fire from the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service headquarters to investigate and learn what has gone wrong. The IRS report of the Fire Brigade (can be accessed via this link) reads an attended officer assumed the fire had started accidentally based on the evidence he then had available.

The Fire Brigade Response Letter (can be accessed via this link) explains:

Please note the information contained within IRS reports is recorded for analytical and statistical purposes.

The most likely ‘cause’ of the incident is the uniformed employee’s opinion and this is qualified by the

passage issued by the Department of Communities and Local Government as follows –

“It is not necessary to be certain that the incident was due to the cause given, only that the cause was one that could be reasonably supposed given the evidence available”.

An erroneous assumption by the attending fire brigade officer about a likely cause of the fire has caused the police taking a wrong view of the situation resulted in the police not taking any action

An internal investigation within my company has revealed none of the fire service officers who attended the fire spoke to the driver of the burnt-out car. My latest questioning her has revealed she tried to speak to the police officers who were also in attendance, but they ignored her. Therefore, neither fire brigade or police could reasonably know the car had been parked on the spot 14 hours before the fire and last checked by the same person (an employee of Czechmate Pest Control) only 1 hour before the fire suddenly started. With no disrespect to the fire brigade officer who composed the IRS report, it is beyond doubt the fire started suddenly. I myself witnessed a recovery lorry uplifting the burnt-out wreckage the next day was struggling to pull it on since even metal parts like wheel bearings had been melted in the fire due to very high temperatures. I am not an expert on fires, but common sense tells me accelerators were used to ignite and boost the fire. I accept anyone can make a mistake in paperwork, but I cannot agree with the attitude of police ignoring to do their duties, regardless what motivation they may have for doing so.

Big thanks to Patricia Gibson, MP who has helped us!

Being a non-British EU citizen living and working in Scotland, I could not find any help in this country from anywhere or anyone, apart from the Honorary Consul of Czech Republic – Mr Paul Millar who resides in Edinburgh, I have asked Patricia Gibson, MP for constituency North Ayrshire and Arran to help us by contacting the police on my behalf. I can’t express loud enough my gratitude to Ms Gibson who has asked the locality Inspector of Police in Saltcoats, North Ayrshire – Mr Colin Convery to consider the matter and respond to our concerns fully. I am expecting Ms Gibson will be back in touch with me once she has a response from the police.

Our emergency pest control response times have been affected in Ayrshire

Although we stay focused on our work 7 days a week, a few of our customers have recently experienced longer wait for emergency call outs than usual because of the arson attack on our fast response car. We apologize to all of them wholeheartedly.

Emergency pest control to your home in Glasgow and Ayrshire within 24 hours

In the meantime, Glasgow branch of my business – Czechmate Pest Control continues to cover the whole of Ayrshire with wasp and pest control services while we guarantee all our customers who request an emergency call out they will be attended within 24 hours of their request for emergency pest control, regardless be it on Saturday or Sunday. No call out charge is added on top of our fixed prices of pest control treatments for home visits planned between 8 am and 4:30 pm, £5 call out charge applies after 4:30 pm Monday to Friday and in the weekends. To receive free pest control advice or to book an appointment for professional pest control service, please phone 01294 689903.

Update 11 Aug. 18

By CZm8

Our insurers have paid out compensation for total loss of the fire-destroyed vehicle.

Owner of Czechmate Pest Control Mr Kroupa has met with Inspector Convery in Saltcoats police station (North Ayrshire) and discussed his safety and security concerns with the police in relation to the incident of 21 April 2018. Police responded with additional security measures have been put in place.

To help prevent similar incidents from occurring, Czechmate Pest Control have had CCTV cameras installed on their premises.

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