COUNTY NEWS: Police investigating damage to cars in car park near Gatwick Airport

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Sussex Police are investigating several reports of cars being damaged at a car park near Gatwick Airport.

Police said they had received a number of calls from passengers who had used parking companies at Gatwick Airport over the December and January period and had come back to find their cars had been damaged.

A police spokesman said the companies were using the same car park in Bonnetts Lane.

Officers said a man from Sunningdale, in Berkshire, reported on Friday (January 15) that he left his Land Rover Discovery with a parking company from January 3 until January 10.

On his return, he told police that it was muddy, both inside and out, and that there were at least 30 scratches all over the vehicle that appeared to have been caused by a key.

On Saturday, January 9, a man called police to report his car, which had been returned to him by a meet and greet parking company at Gatwick, had been vandalised, apparently by being ‘keyed’.

On Sunday, January 10, officers received another call after a man from Southend discovered his car, which he had picked up in the dark at Gatwick the previous evening, had numerous scratches all over it.

Police said on Monday, January 11, a woman from Canterbury reported that her Mercedes car had been returned to her with mud in the footwells, a ‘significant’ increase in mileage and that items in the boot had been tampered with.

On the same day another incident was reported by a woman from Essex who left her Land Rover Freelander with a parking company on December 27.

She told police when it was returned to her on January 7, that it was covered in mud and had seven very long deep scratches on the bonnet, offside doors and offside rear quarter.

In another incident, a woman contacted police after she had left her car with a parking company while she was on holiday and it was returned to her in a damaged state.

The victim left the car on Christmas Day and when she returned on Sunday, January 10, to collect it, the car was covered with scratches, police added.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said the force could not confirm the names of the companies involved but said it was asking them to help with the investigation.

Sergeant Darren Taylor from the Gatwick Community Safety Team said: “We have had a number of reports over a period of about a week from drivers who have had cars damaged.

“As far as we know, all of the cars involved were in same compound near Bonnetts Lane in Crawley.

“Some of the complaints are civil matters and owners have been advised to take up the matter with the company concerned.

“However, it is clear that some of these are deliberate criminal damage and we are investigating. At this there is no explanation of how the damage was caused or by whom.

“Anyone with information about the incidents is asked to email 101@sussex.pnn.police.uk or call 101 quoting serial 650 of 15/11.

“Alternatively, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 (www.crimestoppers-uk.org).”

West Sussex Trading Standards has been informed.

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