Man unable to work after bonnet of van stolen by people in balaclavas in Standish

The bizarre burglaries have left the bonnets of vans missing. Credit: MEN Media

The bonnets of vans have been removed from vans parked on residential streets, in a string of unusual burglaries.

David Leyland initially believed someone had crashed into his car overnight when he woke up to find his Peugeot Partner had been targeted.

But, after closer inspection he realised it had been deliberately done, and after obtaining CCTV footage from nearby he was able to see what had happened to his van in the early hours of the morning.

Greater Manchester Police say a male has been arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft and two counts of theft of a motor vehicle. They have been released on bail.

The courier's van was targeted between 1.20am and 3.32am on Tuesday 26 September, by two people wearing all black and balaclavas whotiptoed towards his vehicle and started quietly working on removing its parts.

Initially taking the bonnet, they then came back for more of the internal mechanisms.

The criminals went back and forth seven times from David's van to their own getaway vehicle during the two hour period.

"They've taken the bonnet and they've taken all of the front end which is the bumper kind of thing, it's a big unit on them," David explained.

"They've taken the headlight unit, the inter cooler, radiator and I believe, I didn't notice this at first but they've also taken my air conditioning unit and power steering.

"They've not even had to break into my car, smash the windows or anything. So the alarms haven't gone off, no sensors have been triggered, they've just stripped it from the front. It's crazy."

David Leyland says the thieves travelled back and forth seven times to steal his bonnet. Credit: MEN Media

David says that similar incidents have also happened in Pemberton, Chorley and Billinge in the past two weeks.

He is now unable to work until his vehicle has been fixed.

The self-employed courier added: "Well I'm not OK because I can't work. The way they [mechanics] were going on, they're saying it could be like eight weeks.

"If my theory is right and the parts are in shortage, it could be longer. I've no idea really.

"I'm trying to get through to my finance company to see if they will pause my payments and then I can hire a van and carry on working.

"I can't pay for that van and hire a van at the same time, I don't earn enough to do it."

David says there are many different types of the vans that could fall victim to this kind of crime, as they may all appear to be different brands but are effectively the same.

He says his Peugeot Partner and others including a Citroen Berlingo are made by the same company, Stellantis.

"For the one guy in Pemberton, they must have got spooked because they only took his bonnet," David continued.

"That's the first piece, the bonnet, that comes off and that cost him £500 for just the bonnet."

After noticing what had happened to his vehicle, David reported the theft of his bonnet and internal parts to the police.

A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said: “Since the start of August 2023 we have had 8 offences in the Wigan area in which vehicle parts have been stripped and stolen from parked and secure vehicles.

"These have occurred all over the district with no distinctive hotspot area.

“The offences contain a variety of makes of vans and cars, with the common factor they all have had front end parts stolen."