Taff Trail robbery spike not well publicised, say walkers

Police should put up warning signs, not just rely on social media, says dog owner

The robberies have all been between Sophia Gardens and the area by Western Avenue (in red). Image: Google Maps

TAFF Trail runners, hikers and dog walkers were told to avoid the path’s Cardiff end in the dark due to a spike in robberies – but some regulars have said this has not been publicised enough. 

South Wales Police reported seven robberies in the five weeks between January 17 and February 21 on the Taff Trail.

The force advised people and the press online and via social media to avoid the area at night while officers investigate.

All seven robberies happened in the area between Sophia Gardens and the Tesco Extra near Western Avenue.

However, some regular Taff Trail walkers said they were concerned they did not know about the issue.

Sarah Cotter, who usually walks her Welsh sheepdog, Alfie, twice a week along the trail, said she was surprised at the number of robberies.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it,” she said.

“I’m quite bad, though when I’m out I just bring my keys, and don’t even bring my phone and I often tend to keep off social media.

The Taff Trail is a popular walking route which connects the valleys and Cardiff. Image: Edd Church

Ms Cotter, a civil servant from Pontcanna, said she must have missed the warnings.

“It does raise questions over their visibility,” she added.  

The trail, which runs from Cardiff Bay to Brecon, is a popular route for walkers, cyclists, and tourists.

Dog walkers Carol Floris and Christie Thomas were both unaware of South Wales Police’s guidance, and the reported crime spike.

Ms Thomas said: “It is slightly concerning to me. You don’t necessarily know the dangers of the area, not everyone is on social media or follows the police on there.

“I don’t think it’s very well publicised, I haven’t heard or seen anything about it.

“You’d think it’d be better advertised, or that there would be a physical sign or something to warn people. That would help.”

Ms Floris, from Grangetown, walks her dog Gino on the trail every two days, and said she sometimes cycles nearby at night during her Deliveroo job.

“It does worry me. Both that the robberies are happening and that I didn’t know about them.

“I tend to avoid walking here in the dark, though, being a woman.”

A South Wales Police spokesperson said putting up signs to warn the public about crimes is not something they do, and that the force had alerted local and national press as well as the public on social media.

No arrests have been made in connection with the robberies, but South Wales Police is investigating.

The spokesperson said: “Patrols are being stepped up in the area, but we’d also urge everyone to take normal precautions whenever they’re walking in unlit or poorly lit areas.

“In the hours of darkness, we always encourage people to stick to well-lit, busy roads.”

Accommodation for both Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan universities backs on to the Taff Trail. Image: Edd Church

The stepped-up patrols will not mean additional police officers on the route, however. 

Jamie Bunce, a student at Cardiff Metropolitan University, said he too was not aware of South Wales Police’s notice to stay away from the area when it’s dark.

“I’m fairly shocked at how many robberies on the Taff Trail, because of how many people are here and how busy it usually is,” he said.

Student accommodation for both Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University backs on to the Trail, which is one of Mr Bunce’s normal routes to get to class.

Cardiff Metropolitan University, which is based on Western Avenue, also issued a warning to its students to avoid the area at night.

A spokesperson said: “South Wales Police have made us aware of an increase in incidents in and around popular Cardiff hotspots.

“As such we have reminded students and staff to be extra vigilant when walking in and out of the city, particularly at night.”