POLICE officers in Swindon believe they have solved a mystery which has been driving residents in the town nutty for more than a month.
After a number of residents reported that their ABS brake cables had been cut in North Swindon, officers increased patrols, issued warning letters to members of the public and even carried out forensic examinations to find the culprit.
But it was not until an eagle-eyed, off-duty police officer noticed tiny teeth marks on his ABS cables that officers began to realise that the guilty party was not a sinister human being, but in fact, a four-legged, bushy-tailed squirrel.
Inspector Pete Chamberlain, who has been leading the investigation, said he has become the butt of all jokes in the office this week after revealing the bizarre end to the tale.
“I have never heard of anything like this in 20 years of police service,” he said.
“I was quite pleased to find out that it is not some sinister human being.
“I needed to be sure before I announced it to members of the public because I didn’t want to end up with egg on my face but the jokes are all starting to come my way now, I’ve had people hopping around me, saying ‘nuts to you’.
“It has certainly brought some joviality to morning meetings that’s for sure.”
In total, seven separate reports of vehicles having their cables cut were received between September 13 and September 30, in Oberon Way, Henman Close, Ray Close, Lyme Way and Bowles Road. After teeth marks were discovered, Insp Chamberlain began to carry out his own research into the incidents.
“The scenes of crime department investigated and found the teeth marks belonged to rodents,” he said.
“I then did my own investigation on the internet into the activities of squirrels to find that they do in fact chew through cables and the attraction apparently is that the rubber is made of some kind of soya.
“Nobody has seen them in action but there are a lot of squirrels in that area and the message to the public is don’t go trying to catch them yourself because you could be committing an offence and they could bite.”
Irzana Golding, who lives on Oberon Way, Abbey Meads, said her two cars had been attacked three times.
She said: “At the beginning of September I had to take one in to get it fixed.
“While that car was being fixed our other car had its cable cut. When our first car was returned within two days it had been broken again.
“The cables are really concealed so they are hard to get to.”
The damage to the cars has cost the family £500 and Mrs Golding thought it could have been foxes.
She added: “When it happened the second time my husband looked into it online.
“It said on there that foxes like the brake fluid and they cut it open, we do get lots of foxes around here. It could be squirrels, we did think it could be some sort of animal.”
Mrs Golding has since put up a camera to see if it reveals anything.
“Everyone’s been a bit worried. If it is a person it is a bit concerning. We have put a camera up, but we haven’t seen anything.”
A spokesman for the RSPCA said: “Squirrels do have a tendency to chew through wires of all sorts.
“It is important however that members of the public do not try to catch the squirrels and take the law into their own hands. Squirrels may well bite if cornered which may result in a hospital visit or at least a tetanus jab.”