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Exhaust thieves target van owners
Thieves are stealing exhausts from vans left outside tradesmen’s homes.
Self-employed workers are being left with bills of thousands of pounds as the metal pipes are ripped from underneath their vans.
While thieves are able to sell the parts on, tradesmen have been deprived of their “offices” at one of the busiest times of year.
It appears that Mercedes Sprinter vans across Sussex are being targeted after a series of incidents in recent weeks.
Sussex Police confirmed it received three separate reports of thefts to Sprinter vans in Auckland Drive in Bevendean, Brighton, in December.
Paul Barnard, of Barnard Flooring, who lives in the road, said: “My van’s my office. Since it happened I’ve been turning down jobs and I’ve had to hire a van so I can get to those already booked.
“It’s been an absolute nightmare to be honest.
“I’m not going to get the van back until the New Year and people want things done before Christmas.
“It’s going to cost £4,000 to repair. While I can claim that back on insurance, it’s costing me nearly £1,000 in my no claims bonus and VAT.”
Garages claim thieves can sell on the catalytic converters, which are attached to the exhausts and convert toxic waste products of combustion into less harmful chemicals.
Paul’s wife, Emma Barnard said: “We took it to the specialist garage. They said they had had a number of them in the past few weeks, all Sprinters, with the same problem.”
A spokeswoman for Rossetts Commercials in Dale Road, Worthing, confirmed there had been a raft of incidents in recent weeks involving Mercedes Sprinter vehicles.
A police spokesman said: “Police enquiries have been made in Auckland Drive, Brighton, but the exhausts have not been recovered and there have been no arrests.”
The news emerged as The Argus uncovered the cost to taxpayers of thefts of drain covers, lead from roofs and even toilet signs.
One council in Sussex, Eastbourne, has been forced to pay out £285,000 worth of repairs to replace stolen metal in less than three years.
Thieves were so keen to get their hands on metal that they stole toilet signs off public conveniences in Lewes and from roofs in public toilets in Chichester.
They also targeted Eastbourne Borough Council’s community halls, crematorium and chapels and attempted to steal the basket of a child’s swing at a playground but succeeded only in causing £174 damage.
In Chichester thieves targeted a hockey and cricket club twice in a year, stole more than £1,000 of material from the roof of public toilets in West Wittering and raided disused sheltered housing in Midhurst.