Armed robbers who shot dead a rich insurance executive in his luxury rural Dorset home hid in wait for the streetlights to go out before deciding to strike. A number of cash strapped councils have opted to switch street lights off in rural areas, during the middle of the night, in order to cut down on costs.
Peter Hedger, 61, died after being blasted with a shotgun at his multi million pound mansion on the edge of the New Forest in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Police believe that the robbers deliberately targeted him and his partner, Simon-Pierre Hedger-Cooper, 48, in order to steal jewellery and designer watches that were kept on the property.
It is thought that the robbers, who numbered at least two and were wearing balaclavas, knew that the streetlights would go off at 1am and used the blackout to stealthily advance on the property, without alerting local residents.
Streetlight blackouts in the early hours of the morning in order to cut down on costs have become increasingly common in recent years, as government austerity cuts to local authority’s budgets start to bite.
Concern’s have been raised that the blackouts will put drivers at risk and make it easier for robbers to opportunistically attack homes.
Hedger-Cooper was later able to raise the alarm when the killers fled the scene in a getaway car at 3am. The police have since made three arrests.
Detective Superintendent Kevin Connolly from Dorset Police said it was a ‘despicable’ crime and described the killers as ‘ruthless’.
He said: ‘We are treating this as an aggravated burglary which subsequently led to a fatal shooting.
‘Our enquiries show there was a level of preplanning. They had gone prepared to be confronted, wearing balaclavas and armed with a shotgun.
‘Jewellery was stolen which includes designer watches and they fled the scene.’