Cars are being destroyed for no reason by thugs in a new trend called 'car cannibalism' and drivers are 'completely oblivious'

19 October 2022, 16:00

Cars are being destroyed for no reason across the UK
Cars are being destroyed for no reason across the UK. Picture: LBC

By Fraser Knight

Cars are being stripped of the bonnet, bumper and headlights by thugs in a new trend called 'car cannibalism', and drivers are 'completely oblivious'.

LBC has found evidence of at least 13 incidents where cars have had their entire front halves stripped for parts across Scotland’s Central Belt.

The trend has been most prominent across parts of the Midlands and Yorkshire in recent years. Drivers have described finding their vehicles, most commonly Vauxhall Corsas and Toyota Yarises, with a smashed front window, missing its bonnet, bumper and headlights - leaving the engine exposed.

Car bonnets removed by thieves
Car bonnets removed by thieves. Picture: LBC

Victoria Greenwood, from Livingston, told LBC she’d left her car in a train station car park before heading to Glasgow for a night out on 24 September 2022.

She returned to find not only her car, but another one alongside it, had been targeted by thieves.

Victoria told us: “I think to start with we thought it had been bashed, like the whole front end had been caved in but as we got closer we realised there was actually nothing there.

“It was strange, there was glass all over the floor, nuts and bolts lying around and the holders that hold the bonnet up were both sticking up, where they’d lifted the bonnet off. It just looked so weird.

“My partner has had Corsas for years and has been on Corsa forums and things and chatted to other people and it was something he’d never heard of. We were completely oblivious to this going on.”

Police sources in Scotland say they’ve never been aware of so-called car cannibalism being an issue north of the border before.

Engines are left exposed
Engines are left exposed. Picture: LBC

But since 13 September, we’ve found evidence of at least five incidents in Fife, seven in West Lothian and one in Edinburgh.

It was also admitted that the 13 incidents raised by LBC hadn’t been flagged as being similar in nature because some had been recorded under different categories - ranging from vandalism to theft.

No arrests have been made. In the West Midlands, a dedicated car crime taskforce has been set up to investigate and crack down on vehicle-related crime.

It’s after dozens of incidents, leading to very few arrests because of a lack of evidence being available. David Moreton, who is 79 and from Tamworth, has had his car targeted twice this year - the second time, just weeks after the first.

His daughter Amanda met me outside his high-rise flat and told me it had left him ‘scared, isolated and not wanting to own a car any more’.

She said: “Mentally for him it’s been quite draining. He doesn’t want his car back now, they’ve completely wrecked him. He’s not the same bloke that he was, he’s quite down now, really.

“They don’t care about anybody’s feelings, they just care about what they can get.”

Amanda told me she doesn’t have much confidence in the police being able to find who did it.

“We don’t feel the police are that bothered. When it happened the second time, it was a case of ‘it’s happened’ and that’s it.

“I just don’t feel like there’s any police around to do anything about it. It makes you angry because it is getting worse and I think it’s down to there being no police there to stop it.

“It’s a case of whatever happens, happens and you just get on with it now. It makes you feel unsafe.”

LBC has spoken to multiple victims of car cannibalism in different parts of the UK and they’ve all shared concerns that the crime may be spreading because of a lack of police action.

Damaged cars from the sky
Damaged cars from the sky. Picture: LBC

We asked the National Police Chiefs Council if it shared that concern and a spokesperson said:“We are aware of the incidents in the West Midlands and Scotland.

This isn’t something we’re seeing as a significant emerging trend on a national level at this stage but we are monitoring the situation closely”.

Staffordshire Police said:  “Since we launched our new local policing model at the end of June this year, we are continuing to tackle issues and concerns raised by our local communities. 

This means we are increasing patrols in identified hot-spot areas and are continuing to implement a dedicated community engagement strategy. “We know that crimes such as theft, robbery, burglary and vehicle-related crime have a huge impact on victims and how they feel about their safety.

“We do all we can to keep victims of crime updated in relation to investigations and will provide additional support where it is needed.”

In Scotland, police haven’t yet linked the 13 car cannibalism incidents raised by LBC.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Extensive enquiries are ongoing into all of these incidents to ascertain whether they are a trend or being carried out by a single individual or group.

“We would ask anyone with information, or if you see any anyone trying to sell Corsa parts online or in person, to please report it to police.

“At this time, we’d also urge car owners– regardless of its make – to be mindful of your security. Keep your vehicle locked and if you can park in a secure or well-lit location, do so.”

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