A gun crime hunter has uncovered evidence of a hidden subculture of road sign vandalism in Bucks.
Matt Seiber, 59, travels around the country documenting the number of road signs riddled with bullet holes which are caused by what he describes as ‘dangerous individuals’.
The former Royal Marine recorded 10 separate locations in the county where vandals had peppered road signs with bullet holes – all of which are in rural locations or on the outskirts of villages.
Signs in Ickford, Brill, Haddenham, Cuddington, Marsh Gibbon, Cadmore End, Ashendon, Buckingham and Dinton all bear the scars of criminal activity.
Matt, who is a driving training specialist, said: “The first time I experienced this was when I was a student travelling the outskirts of Madrid in Spain in 1975.
“I saw some men firing handguns in the distance and they started shouting at me in Spanish, I presume telling me to stop walking.
“I thought ‘I don’t want to get mixed up in this’ so started walking away but all of a sudden, I heard the bullets cracking over my head.”
After his near miss, Matt – who himself shoots for sport – vowed to investigate exactly why people deliberately use firearms to deface public road signs.
He set up the Gunfire Graffiti project in 2008 and so far has recorded 415 cases in 38 counties and compiled a book – Gunfire Graffiti.
He said: “The more I look, the more I find. I’m just a one man band, but if I were to have a team I know we would have found thousands by now.”
When asked if he knew who the culprits were he said: “I really don’t know, but what I do know is that these people are mobile.
“Some shots show that they are shooting from a vehicle in a sort of drive by situation – others suggest they are stood perpendicular, as if they have got out of the car.”
Matt revealed that they are using a range of firearms in Buckinghamshire – shotguns, rifles and handguns.
He said: “It’s hard to look at a sign and say ‘that hole was caused by this gun’.
“They have to be examined forensically.”
But what troubles Matt is the lack of concern he has been met with when approaching the authorities.
He said: “I try and look at the bigger picture.
“My concern is that if they are prepared to do this, what else are they willing to do?”
“The people who are doing this aren’t nice people.
“The reason they use these metal signs is that they are solid and they give them an idea of the weapon’s penatrative power.
“It also leaves a permanent impression, so when they revisit it they can gloat and say ‘I did that’.
“But they don’t want to get caught.
“There is never anything online or on YouTube – they are very clever.”
Matt’s full-time hobby has earned him coverage in the nationals and on BBC radio, and he is due to lecture law students at Coventry University.
A spokesman for Transport for Bucks said: “We are aware of the damaged sign in Ickford, and will be arranging for it to be replaced.
“We are not aware of any other incidents in the area.”
Visit www.gunfire-graffiti.co.uk for more.