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  1. ITV Report

Car parts thieves dubbed 'Corsa cannibals' strike again

The Vauxhall Corsa had its bonnet, grille and lights stolen overnight between Good Friday and Easter Saturday whilst parked outside its owner's house in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. Credit: PA

Another Vauxhall has been stripped for its bodywork in what appears to be the the latest example of the so-called Corsa Cannibals phenomenon.

Brazen thieves stole the front end of a Corsa while it was parked outside the owners house in Chester-le-Street, County Durham, removing the bonnet, grille and lights.

The thieves, who struck overnight between Good Friday and Easter Saturday, smashed the front passenger window, leaned in to pop the bonnet open, then unscrewed the front of the car to leave the engine exposed.

Bedfordshire Police confirmed in 2016 that 22 arrests had been made in relation to Vauxhall parts being stolen. The number of arrests nationwide is likely to be much higher.

A mechanic said it could have taken as little as 10 minutes to steal - all done while 45-year-old driver was asleep in his home, just yards away.

The phenomenon of stripping Vauxhalls and stealing body parts has had over 500 casualties since 2013. Credit: PA

The owner said: "I could not believe my eyes when I saw it."My neighbour saw it first and she rang me to tell me the front of my car was missing.

"I am furious that someone has just taken what is not theirs and caused me a great deal of hassle."

He added: "It was so brazen."

Police say two of these crimes were reported this week, however it is the first time this technique has been used in Chester-le-Street.

Acting Inspector Mel Sutherland of Chester-le-Street Neighbourhood Team, said: "In the first instance I would always advise people to check and check again that their vehicle is locked and secure, however given that this type of crime is very specific and unusual I would also encourage people to be extra vigilant and to consider where they are parking their cars."

The thieves smashed the front passenger window, leaned in to pop the bonnet open, then unscrewed the front of the car to leave the engine exposed. Credit: PA

In December 2017 the Evening Gazette in Teesside reported that five cars had been targeted in one weekend.

Vauxhall said its cars were targeted because they are popular.

A spokesman said: "There are no security or design issues with our best-selling Corsa.

"The Corsa has been a huge sales success since it was launched over 25 years ago, so there are proportionally more on the road than other less popular models.

"This is wanton vandalism; if a thief is determined enough they can steal parts from any make of car."