Cars damaged in Reading suburb by masked youths

Youths wearing masks and balaclavas caused damage to cars in Reading in "copy cat incidents" following riots in London, police said.

A car was overturned overnight in the Whitley area and one was set alight shortly after midnight in Northcourt Avenue in a suspected arson attack.

A 24-hour Tesco in Slough was shut overnight on the advice of police.

Thames Valley Police has issued an order allowing officers to remove masks and balaclavas from anyone suspicious.

The force has increased the numbers of officers in Berkshire in addition to sending two of its police support units to London last night.

'Greatly exaggerated'

Deputy Chief Constable Francis Habgood, said some of the rumours circulating on social networking sites about "riots" were "untrue or greatly exaggerated".

He said: "These are copy-cat incidents of those that have been happening in London, although involving far fewer people."

He added people should not be "alarmed" by the increased police presence.

"These officers are there to provide reassurance and tackle any criminal activity that may occur."

Thames Valley Police has set up Twitter feeds to keep communities in the Reading and Slough areas updated.

A Tesco spokesman said the Tesco Extra in Brunel Way, Slough, had been closed as a precaution on advice of police.

He added: "Our main concern is staff and customer safety". The store has since reopened.

Reading FC's away match against Charlton Athletic this evening has been postponed on police advice following the riots in London.

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