Police hunt balaclava-clad gang after car fire leaves children screaming in fright

Screaming children watched in terror after a balaclava-clad gang torched a car on a quiet Aberdeen street.

The vehicle was reduced to a blackened shell as residents were woken by a series of loud bangs to flames and thick smoke outside.

Police are now hunting three men seen in the Lossie Place area of Mastrick at around 1.20am on Monday morning.

Additional police officers have been drafted in to monitor the area while investigations take place.

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The men being sought are believed to have fled the scene in a vehicle after their rampage, which also saw at least one other vehicle damaged.

The most severely damaged was a red Ford Connect van, which had its windows smashed before being set alight.

Numerous residents were woken by the ensuing fire.

One told the Press and Journal: “At about half past one my daughter woke up screaming that there was a van on fire.”

Her neighbour added: “We’re all bit tired today – my son was scared by it and struggled to get back to sleep.

“It’s all he talked about on the way to school this morning.”

Another said: “You could hear it burning and there was the odd banging noise and a lot of smoke.

“I phoned the police but it had already been called-in. I reckon it must have woken up most of the street.”

It is understood the van belonged to somebody who lives elsewhere but used the street for parking purposes.

Nobody was injured in the incident.

Car set on fire and another has its windows smashed overnight in Aberdeen

Police are keen to trace the three men who were seen in Lossie Place at the time and who are believed to have used a vehicle.

They are all said to have been wearing dark clothing and balaclavas. Witnesses described all three as being of slim build and around 5ft 10in in height.

The attack came after a red Vauxhall Astra had its windows smashed just after midnight on nearby Mastrick Road.

Detective Sergeant Mike Reynolds said: “There will be an increased police presence in the area while we carry out inquiries.

“I would ask that anyone who may have witnessed either of these two incidents, or who saw the men described, calls the police on 101.

Glass from the vandalised car on Lossie Place, Mastrick.

“Crimestoppers can also be called anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

Though the investigation is at an early stage, Detective Sergeant Reynolds confirmed that police were following a positive line of inquiry.

Mastrick has been the subject of a heightened police presence in recent months as officers have worked to prevent anti-social behaviour.

The high visibility patrols have been praised by some for their impact but many locals have said they have been of limited lasting benefit.