By Denna Bowman
Daring thieves are netting hundreds of pounds by climbing underneath vans and stealing the spare wheels and tyres.
Six vehicles were targeted in one night alone in Oxford and now police are advising van owners to ensure their spare wheels were securely locked or removed.
The spare wheels, which often have unused tyres fitted, are worth around £200 and there have been around 12 thefts in Oxford in the last 10 days.
Det Sgt Suzette Allcorn, of Oxford’s auto crime unit, said: “To steal these wheels someone has to get underneath and either cut a cable or metal bracket to make it fall to the ground.
“If someone were to pass by then it would be noticable and quite strange to see someone’s body poking out from underneath the van.”
There have been other reports of spare wheel thefts elsewhere in the county in the past fortnight and police are keeping an open mind as to whether they are linked.
Det Sgt Allcorn added: “We don’t know why it has just suddenly started here and now.
“When the first few were reported stolen we thought maybe someone was trying to get four wheels for their van “But clearly someone is doing this for financial gain.
“The spare wheel and tyre on a van is a complete replacement and costs a lot of money.”
Anyone with information should call police on 0845 8505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.