‘NIGHT RIDER’ Dez Richardson has rejected criticism of his ‘vigilante’ patrols as part of a community fight back against Saddleworth’s unprecedented crime wave.
And the dad of three hopes his crusade to help stem the flood of burglaries, break-ins and anti social behaviour is coming to an end.
Dez, who works security for a Tameside haulage firm, and Uppermill businessman, Gary Winterbottom, took to the streets in their 4×4’s as incidents reached record levels last month.
“No one else seemed to be doing anything so we hooked up and started going out,” said 33-year-old Dez. “The community as a whole has been very supportive.
“There have been a few small pockets who have been vociferous, saying we we are vigilantes and we are not police.
“We made it very clear we are witnesses and nothing more. The police were understandably concerned initially what our attitude was going to be if we witnessed any incidents.
“However, there is no intervention with the exception of risk to life. We know the police have suffered huge budget cuts and so they are grateful for more pairs of eyes on the street.”
Dez and Gary both have cameras attached to the dashboards of their vehicles to film any unusual or suspicious behavior and any footage is passed to police or community leaders.
“We are not there to confront in any way shape or form,” Dez re-iterated. “We are not police officers, we hold no powers or authority whatsoever.
“We are there as part of a support network in case anyone feels uncomfortable. Nothing more than that.
“Half a dozen people have asked us to keep an eye on their premises overnight and we’ve got groceries for a few elderly residents worried by crowds of youths hanging about.
“Gary has been out as much as I have. He recently moved over to Carrbrook because they have been having burglaries too. We hook up two or three times a night to swop information.”
Gary explained: “I got involved because I don’t want my business, or any others in the area, being targeted. We were burgled at home recently and I don’t want my business hit too.”
Dez also refuses any offer of financial help, however well meaning. “I am very wary of taking any form of gratuity,” he confirmed.
“People have offered to chip in for a fuel fund but that’s not why I do it. The second you accept any form of gratuity in financial form or otherwise, people start asking questions why you are doing it.
“I work full-time, I have got my own small business (Canine Motorcycle Recovery) and I can afford to put fuel in the car to help people out.
“Besides, I don’t want to carry on doing it anymore than necessary. I have a family and young children who are missing me.
“Thankfully, it looks like the situation is calming down and hopefully the community will start to take more responsibility.”
However, Dez is currently in training for a white collar boxing show at Media City on April 16 in aid of Cancer Research UK and is happy to receive donations through www.justgiving.com/DezRichardson