Gangs of thieves suck £120k from parking meters using vacuums

Gangs of thieves suck £120k from parking meters using vacuums

Organised crime gangs have used any means possible to drain £120,000 in coins from roadside machines within the last year.

A staggering £10,000 a month is being stolen from the parking meters of the borough of Kensington and Chelsea alone, its local authority warns.

The west London authority claims criminals are using everything from vacuum cleaners to sledgehammers in their bid to access the cash.

As well as drilling holes in meters to suck out money using vacuum cleaner hoses, thieves are smashing them open with heavy tools and even driving vehicles into them.

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Will Pascall, Kensington and Chelsea Council's lead member for streets, planning and transport thinks “going cashless” might be the only way to put an end to the criminality.

“We have gangs stalking the streets and smashing their way into machines to suck the cash out,” he explained. “We also now know from local police that this is funding further criminality in London, from drugs and trafficking to possibly violent crime.

“It is a trend we need to stop and motorists going cashless is one way we can help tackle this.”

With more than 700 parking machines across the borough, drivers wondering where they can and can’t park are being urged to use those where they can pay through the council’s app or phone system.

UK chief executive of PayByPhone, Jonny Combe believes moving away from coins is a “great way” for any council to reduce this type of theft and vandalism.

“Cashless parking also delivers convenience to drivers, as they can start a parking session in a matter of seconds and use their phones to extend the parking from anywhere – even from their smart watch.

“They don't have to worry about cutting appointments short to rush back to feed a meter.”

Copyright Press Association 2019. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.

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