POLICE patrols have been stepped up after a third attack in less than two weeks at a popular Torquay play park.
In the latest incident arsonists set fire to wood after breaking up the picket fencing around the play area at Armada Park, off Nut Bush Lane in higher Chelston.
The park has been torched and vandalised on two previous occasions.
The latest fire last Friday was spotted by an off-duty police officer and a fire crew from Torquay was able to put out the burning fencing before it took hold.
Torbay Council is now having to remove all the picket fencing which has been used to light fires.
A gang of between eight and 10 boys and girls, aged 10 to 16, were seen fleeing the area in the dark.
Sherri Pomeroy, PCSO for the Chelston, Livermead and Cockington area, said: "There have been three attacks now and we want the public to ring us and tell us who is hanging around there because it is very unlikely they will be caught in the act.
"We are now stepping up the surveillance. All police officers in Torbay are now aware and we are asking the public to help.
"All of the attacks have been early evening. We want the public to ring us on the 101 number and tell us what's happening.
"The council has decided it will remove all the picket fencing."
A Torbay Council spokesman said: "We deplore any mindless vandalism in our parks and other public spaces which are provided for everyone's enjoyment.
"Fortunately, despite these latest incidents, we are able to keep Armada Park open. Unfortunately, the cost of these repairs means essential maintenance cannot be carried out."
Ring the police non-emergency 101 number, or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at Crimestoppers-uk.org