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Exhaust thieves leave disabled customers stranded after raid on Hardwicke business

By The Citizen  |  Posted: May 03, 2014

Geoff Billett

Comments (7)

THEFTS of exhausts from vehicles in Hardwicke have left two disabled people stranded - and police say such incidents are still rife in Gloucestershire.

Catalytic converters from the exhaust systems were stolen from two Mercedes Sprinter vans from Mobility Disabled, on Bath Road, on April 22, costing the wheelchair adapted vehicle business around £5,000.

Thieves were able to climb over a high fence during the night and sneak into the compound and take the exhausts.

This has left two disabled customers stranded without their specially adapted vehicles while Mobility Disabled try and source the replacement parts.

Geoff Billett, owner of the business, said: “It’s just despicable that they would steal from vehicles for disabled people. One of our customers is a transport manager in Cheltenham, and he’s irate because he can’t get into work.”

The vehicles have been specially adapted to lift disabled people into the drivers seat and allow them to drive using hand controls.

Geoff said: “Our customers are stranded now. They can’t just go next door and ask their neighbours if they can borrow their specially adapted Sprinter.

“Parts for Mercedes Sprinters have to be specially ordered too, so we’re still trying to replace the exhausts.”

Last week’s incident is one of a series of thefts involving vehicle parts in Gloucestershire. In May 2013, Mercedes Sprinter vans were targeted in Stonehouse on four separate occasions for their catalytic converters, costing vehicle and business owners thousands of pounds.

Catalytic converters, which reduce poisonous gases from the vehicle's exhaust system, are often targeted because they contain precious metals such as platinum and palladium.

A Gloucestershire Police spokesman said: “Although we continue to work hard to tackle this, the theft of catalytic converters continues to be an issue across the whole county.

“If you believe that you may have been a target of this crime or you think that you might have seen anyone acting suspiciously around vehicles in your area, then we urge the public to call police immediately on 101.”

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  • RoadWombat  |  May 04 2014, 6:41PM

    Why fit the darn things at all? Just more EU nonsense. There are ways round it if you do get yours nicked - have a search on some petrol head sites.

  • nickthompson  |  May 04 2014, 4:50PM

    Mercedes don't come out of this very well, thefts of cats from Sprinter vans is a nation wide occupation for thieves, they are far to easy to steal then sold for a few hundred quid to breaker's, the owner then left with a bill for close on two grand, rather than Mercedes change the poor design, and extremely easy access to cats they will sell you a cat protection kit for a couple of hundred, well then Mercedes WHY NOT FIT THEM AS STANDARD?

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  • honslknjklyt  |  May 03 2014, 3:38PM

    You can only do anything to them if you catch them. Making them work hard for no money unless they are in prison, they would still get there three square meals a day prepared for them etc. There should be a deterrant, not only to punish them for doing it but to show others that it will not be tolerated. There is less crime in places where they do chop fingers off!!!! They don't do it again, none of this 53 times before a soft judge decides to imprison the poor bleeder for a month. only to serve 2 weeks.

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  • FreeRadical1  |  May 03 2014, 3:19PM

    Turning thieves into disabled people is hardly the best way to deal with crime. The best way to punish a thief is to make him work hard for no money. Of course, you can only do that if you catch him.

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  • honslknjklyt  |  May 03 2014, 3:00PM

    When they thieve from ANYONE they should have their fingers removed, disabled or not. It is not their property and there are too many victims being punished while the criminals get off freely. I do agree Leorche.

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  • Lecorche  |  May 03 2014, 2:36PM

    Thieving Barstuds should have some of their fingers removed if and when they get caught.

  • honslknjklyt  |  May 03 2014, 11:52AM

    The amount of money a lot of disabled people get (not means tested) they can use taxis. This is not Stranded. They are not on a desert island with now way of getting home waiting for a glimpse of flicker of light from an aeroplane in the sky.