POLICE are hunting reckless vandals who put lives at risk by firing lethal ball bearings from a catapult.

Missiles fired from a moving car smashed windows of businesses, cars and homes in a wrecking spree in Verwood and Alderholt.

One burst through the window of Harlees fish and chip shop in Manor Road, Verwood, hurtling past the counter and denting a cooking range at 4pm on Tuesday.

Bournemouth Echo:

CCTV images show the ball bearing smash through toughened glass and hit the range, which is immediately behind the till.

There were no staff on the premises because it is closed between 2pm and 4.30pm but manager Matt Wooler said someone could have been killed.

“At a different time of the day there would have been someone standing behind the till and it would have killed them” he said.

Bournemouth Echo:

The images show a family walking in front of the shop just minutes before the incident.

A BMW X5, possible dark grey or green, is seen to travel around the roundabout and something is fired from the passenger window.

“They are putting people’s lives at risk and don’t seem to care who or what they are firing at” said another member of staff.

“It’s impossible to know where a ball bearing will end up when you fire it out of the window of a moving car.

“If the family had been walking past a couple of minutes later a child could have been killed.”

A telephone kiosk, converted to house a defibrillator outside the Alderholt Reading Room in Station Road, has five bullet-type holes and shattered glass.

Bournemouth Echo:

Homes and vehicles have also been targeted with one man describing how something was fired at his car as he drove along the road.

Police have appealed for information from the public in a bid to trace the offenders.

Bournemouth Echo:

A ball bearing was found lodged in the window of a home in Earlswood Road, Alderholt. The damage occurred between 5pm and 5.30pm on Tuesday April 9.

There were several other incidents reported on the same afternoon including damage to a vehicle in Earlswood Road and to properties in Pennine Way, Verwood, and Daggons Road in Alderholt.

The following day a vehicle was found to be damaged in Home Farm Road in Verwood.

Bournemouth Echo:

Verwood residents have taken to social media to warn others about the incidents.

Keith Prince said: “I had something hit my screen with force coming towards Alderholt from Sandleheath just before the bridge. Nothing smashed but heck of a bang.”

Ray Bennett added: “Unbelievable - it will kill somebody if it hits them in the head.”

A glazier who had seen the damage said it looked like it had been caused by a bullet.

A spokesman for Dorset Police said: “We are treating the incidents as linked and an investigation is ongoing.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55190053929.

Alternatively members of the public can contact the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.