Parking gangs that are using vacuum cleaners to suck money out of machines are forcing one of UK’s wealthiest councils to consider scrapping cash meters.
Armed with sledgehammers, the organised gangs have stolen £120,000 out of 70 machines in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the past 12 months.
The local council warned that the criminals are smashing the meters open or drilling holes in them before inserting vacuum cleaner hoses to suck the money out. They are also driving vehicles into the machines in an effort to access the coins.
The recurring crime has left the Council with little choice but to consider ending cash payments for the 700 parking meters across the borough, which charge from £1.30 to £4.90 per hour.
They are now urging motorists to pay for parking through their app or phone system.
Kensington and Chelsea Council’s lead member for streets, planning and transport, Will Pascall said that the parking gangs’ profits are funding other crimes such as drugs and trafficking in the capital.
He said: “We have gangs stalking the streets and smashing their way into machines to suck the cash out.
“We also now know from local police that this is funding further criminality in London, from drugs and trafficking to possibly violent crime.