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.”