Police were called in to investigate suspected car sabotage only to discover a pack of foxes were responsible for chewing through brake cables.
During an eight month period, a number of residents in three streets in West Wickham, near Bromley, Kent discovered the brake cable on their car had been apparently severed.
Nine vehicles, including three Mercedes, a BMW, three Fords, a Nissan and an Austin were targeted.
Officers from the the Metropolitan Police's West Wickham Safer Neighbourhood Team began to conduct an investigation into the apparent cases of criminal damage before someone was seriously hurt.
The team investigated the reports, forensically examining the vehicles concerned and watched cctv
footage from the area.
But a visit to an expert in Biological Science at Bristol University found that the saboteur was not human a fox with a taste for brake fluid.
Professor Stephen Harris from the university identified the cuts and marks left on the vehicle components as being made by an animals, probably foxes.
Prof Harris, who has been actively engaged in mammal research for over 40 years, with the majority of his work being on foxes, and who is considered to be the international expert on the species, said: "Foxes chew a wide range of objects - rubber and other balls, cables, garden hoses, shoes, gloves and pipes under houses when they can gain access through a broken airbrick.
"They occasionally also chew brake cables; sometimes this is simply part of their usual behaviour of chewing objects, particularly those made of rubber, plastic or leather.
"However, it appears that they also occasionally develop a taste for brake fluids.
"There is no doubt that the damage in these cases is the work of animals, not people, and the damage is entirely consistent with this being due to foxes".
Sergeant George Blair, head of the West Wickham Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: "This series of incidents was quite understandably causing anxiety to people living in the area and we are pleased to be able to find an innocent explanation for the cause of the damage." Source