RESIDENTS are living in fear of drive-by shootings in Stratton.

Airgun shots have been fired during seven incidents targeting properties and cars throughout May.

The shootings, which are believed to come from a passing vehicle, have taken place in Ermin Street, Grange Drive and Highworth Road.

Both businesses and homes are being targeted and police believe the shootings are random.

The most recent shooting took place on Tuesday evening.

Upper Stratton community beat manager PC Kirsty Wilson said: "The offences take place on an ad-hoc basis.

"People's homes and vehicles are being damaged. It is an unusual occurrence, but youths are now managing to get hold of BB (ballbearing) guns more easily on the internet.

"They are not using them responsibly, which is upsetting for the public as it is putting them at risk.

"Also parents need to be aware that youths are using these."

Windows are left strewn with small pellet holes leaving occupants with costly repairs.

"We think there was a vehicle involved and are appealing for anyone with information to come forward," said PC Wilson.

Estate agents Haart, on Swindon Road just off Ermin Street, have been targeted twice.

Steven Hendry, branch manager at Haart, said: "It's a lot of money - it's costly and the market's difficult at the moment."

"The first time the shop window was targeted a couple of months ago the replacement cost was about £1,000."

The estate agents is independently run and this time both the door and window have been hit.

Mr Hendry said: "You have got another £1,200 on top coming out of your expenses that could be used for other things.

"It will be £2,500 in a six-month period that we wouldn't have had to pay if some idiot hadn't done it - it's quite serious."

Part of the problem is also clearing up the shattered glass widely spread over the office workspace, making it dangerous for customers, and the worry that the glass in the door would collapse.

"It's selfish and thoughtless doing something without thinking of the consequences - how would they like it if we smashed their windows?" said Mr Hendry.

Allen & Harris estate agents, on Ermin Street, was first targeted about three months ago, but was under fire again earlier this week.

Alan Guildford, a mortgage adviser at Allen & Harris, said: "It doesn't look very nice and it takes them ages to replace the windows - and it's cold!

"It's just annoying when it happens. I'm just grateful we're a massive corporate company, I feel sorry for the family-run businesses."

The owner of a business on Ermin Street, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said he thought the area was rife with this sort of crime.

He said "They've been doing it for years and they'll carry on until they get caught."

Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to telephone Stratton Neighbourhood Policing team 0845 408 7000.