A dealership in Bolton has become the latest victim of the growing trend of 'car cannibalism' - where bonnets, bumpers and headlights are being ripped from vehicles.

Vauxhall motor dealership Wilson & Co security compound on Thynne Street in Bolton was targeted by thieves who  broke into the area three times over the course of a weekend in December and caused at least £50,000 of damage by removing the front of vehicles.

The compound is no longer being used as a result.

'Car cannibals are essentially believed to be gangs who strip parts from vehicles to order and the crime is said to be happening across the country.

The bizarre trend of ripping the front end of vehicles, specifically vans, has been reported in Horwich where motors have been parked on streets  previously,  and now  in the most audacious theft in Bolton, close to the town centre.

Bosses at the dealership say that on the first occasion a witness reported to the police what was happening and was told it was not an emergency.

They add by the time the thieves were disturbed by a security guard extensive damage had been caused.

And around a week later the dealership claims police had closed the case.

The Bolton News: The vans were damaged
Such thefts have been a rising concern in Bolton with a number of vans in Horwich being targeted.

One woman, who lives on Siemens Street, had her own van targeted in December and last week her  replacement  vehicle was also targeted.

The Bolton News: A van was also targeted in Siemens Street, Horwich, in December
Late last month a vehicle was similarly targeted on Whitworth Street in Horwich.

Managers at the car dealership criticised the police’s lack of response to the crime.

Read more: Theft concerns raised as parts stolen from van

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Robin Wilson, the owner, said: “It beggars belief. The people who did it felt so confident they came back over the weekend.

“I feel more than let down. It is going to cost us at least £10,000 on each.

“We do not know if we can get the parts, there are global issues over parts supply.

“With some of our other vehicles we have waited nine months for parts.

“If I could choose where to send my tax I would not send it to the police because they do not do anything.

The Bolton News: The type of crime has been seen elsewhere
“They could have stopped this if they had turned up after the first or second time.

“They see because it is a business and you have insurance that it is a victimless crime.

“We opened here in 2004, we had some problems with thieves breaking in and taking tools but nothing like this.”

Mick Cliffe, the managing director, added: “I was in Tesco in Halifax this week and there were two police cars there to get two shoplifters.

“If they can go to that then why not this?

“We have had to move vehicles now as the insurance would not let us keep them there.”

In the aftermath of the repeated targeting of the vans on Siemens Street, Horwich, town councillor Ryan Bamforth called on the police to take action.

He said: “It is an area of concern.

“A lot of van owners are self employed.

“It can lead to a potential loss of livelihood.

“It will be interesting to see what Greater Manchester Police do to end this crime spree.
“This is organised crime, to be able to get an engine out of a van.

“If you take a car to a garage to get an engine replaced you are looking at a wait of two weeks.”

A police spokesperson confirmed the case of the theft of parts from cars belonging to Wilson & Co Vauxhall was closed due to there being “no evidential opportunities to identify the suspect.”