Gangs use vacuum cleaners to steal cash from parking meters

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Organised crime gangs armed with sledgehammers and vacuum cleaners are stealing tens of thousands of pounds from parking meters, a local authority has warned.

Kensington and Chelsea Council in west London said £120,000 has been sucked out of its machines in the past 12 months.

Criminals are smashing the meters open or drilling holes in them before inserting vacuum cleaner hoses, the council reported.

They are also driving vehicles into the machines in a bid to access the coins.

The council is considering ending cash payments to thwart criminals by reducing the amount of money in the meters.

It is urging motorists to pay for parking through its app or phone system.More than 70 parking machines are currently in use across the borough.

Kensington and Chelsea Council's lead member for streets, planning and transport, Will Pascall said: "We have gangs stalking the streets and smashing their way into machines to suck the cash out.