Pay and dismay?

Police to beef up patrols of car parks in Honiton following thefts of fuel.

As police in Honiton step up patrols to combat thefts of fuel from parked cars, East Devon District Council says it cannot accept any responsibility for vehicles targeted in its car parks.

However, the authority is to liaise with police and other agencies in a bid to combat the “root cause” of the problem.

A permit holder, who uses the council’s car park in Silver Street, has revealed her vehicle has been vandalised for a fourth time.

Police told town councillors on Monday they are unaware of vandal attacks on parked cars, but have noticed an increase in thefts of fuel.

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The issue was raised by district councillor Phil Twiss at a meeting of Honiton Town Council.

The permit holder, who does not wish to be named, is calling for greater night-time security at the town’s car parks and says all-night lighting and CCTV should be used.

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“It is a nightmare,” she said. “I am distressed by it all.

“My car was parked by a wall, underneath a street light, and still the driver’s door handle was forced.

“This happened two weeks ago and was the fourth time my car has been attacked in three years.”

The woman added: “Nowhere does it say owners leave their cars at their own risk.”

A council spokesman told the Midweek Herald: “Council car parks are offered free-of-charge at night and, as is normal practice for local authorities, are not staffed or supervised.

“The council cannot accept responsibility for acts of vandalism by third parties.

“Only a police investigation can ascertain whether or not this lady’s car is being targeted or whether these are repeat, random attacks.

“Fortunately, such problems are rare in East Devon but we appreciate they can be very upsetting for victims when they do occur and so should always be reported to the police.”

The spokesman added: “We will look at working with the police and other agencies to see whether action can be taken to address the root cause of the problem.

“On lighting of car parks, this is now switched off at 11pm and comes back on at 5am in the winter months.

“We have not identified a general increase in car park vandalism since lighting through the night was suspended.

“Indeed, it has been found that groups of trouble-makers are more likely to gather in an area that is lit than one where it is dark.”

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