Page last updated at 11:11 GMT, Wednesday, 1 October 2008 12:11 UK

Police to deter bottle hunters

Allotments in Barnstaple
The site is a former clay pit

Police have begun patrolling a north Devon allotment to deter people from digging at the site in search of valuable Victorian bottles.

Security guards had been employed by North Devon District Council to stop people digging holes up to 6ft deep at the Mill Road Allotments in Barnstaple.

Officers are now patrolling and fences at the 22-plot site are being raised.

It is being targeted because it is a former clay pit which was filled with Victorian glass and china.

'Indiscriminate digging'

The finds from the digs are thought to be sold on the internet or at car boot sales.

Over the past five or six weeks, nine huge holes and trenches have been dug over plots at the allotment.

The bottle hunters' activity has been shielded from view by tall crops including broad beans and corn.

"Some of the trenches are the width of the allotment plots, it must have taken them hours," said a council spokesman.

"They even come with their own spades. The plot holders are upset at the indiscriminate digging, which has destroyed crops."

The authority employed security staff to combat the vandals but the police have now been drafted in.

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