POLICE fear that a vigilante with a grudge is on the loose after a fourth speed camera in three weeks was set alight over the weekend.

A camera in Sawpit Hill, Hazlemere, was left badly damaged early on Sunday morning after a tyre was rolled underneath it and set on fire.

It is the fourth camera in Bucks that has been targeted in a spate of attacks against the safety devices.

The Hazlemere fire follows a camera that was burnt in the same way - using a tyre stuffed with rags - in Lane End three weeks ago, just after it had been replaced following previous vandalism.

A speed camera in Gravel Hill, Chalfont St Peter, was set on fire on Friday evening, and another camera in the north orbital road in Denham also went up in smoke on September 1.

Thames Valley Police has said it is not ruling out the possibility that the attacks are being carried out by a vigilante.

Police spokesman Pierre du Bois said: "It could be somebody with a grudge against these machines."

The latest camera fire in Sawpit Lane, Hazlemere, happened early on Sunday morning just after 6am.

Fire crews were alerted at around 6am and a team from High Wycombe arrived at the scene to put out the flames.

The camera was badly charred and the sooty remains of the tyre were left scattered at its base.

The same method - a tyre filled with rags and set on fire - was used to damage a speed camera in Marlow Road, Lane End on Wednesday, August 23, days after it had been replaced following previous vandalism.

Two other cameras in Chalfont St Peter and Denham have also been burned in recent weeks.

Pierre du Bois, Thames Valley Police spokesman, said: "We are investigating to see if these incidents are linked. We are not ruling anything out."

He said the attacks could be the work of vigilantes with a grudge against speed cameras.

Fraser Pearson, from Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue, said: "I believe that this is the fourth one in the last three weeks.

"Over the years people have vandalised speed cameras in a number of ways. Arson is just one of them."

Neighbours said somebody tried to set fire to the Sawpit Hill camera on Friday night after seeing soot marks on it on Saturday morning.

The arsonists then came back to finish the job on Sunday while most people were still in bed.

Geoff Davies, who works in Threshers wine merchants directly opposite the camera and lives in the flat above the shop, said: "My girlfriend was up at six and she said the fire engine was there.

"I have seen the camera go off a lot more recently, so I don't know if that has got anything to do with it.

"I don't know why people would do it, it seems like a weird one to me.

"Nobody likes them but they do a job."

The Thames Valley Safer Roads Partnership (TVSRP) is responsible for speed cameras in Buckinghamshire.

Dan Campsall, from TVSRP, has previously said: "We take these matters very seriously; this is criminal damage to public property and creates a significant risk to the safety of the public."

Police are treating all four camera fires as arson.

* If you have any information about these attacks contact police on 08458 505 505