Foxes with a taste for brake fluid are putting drivers' lives at risk, police in Kent have warned. Six motorists in Tunbridge Wells have reported damage to brake lines in recent weeks. But after extensive investigations, including calling in the assistance of a wildlife expert, officers have concluded it is the work of foxes.
Inspector Christian Mayers, from the Tunbridge Wells Community Safety Unit, said: "These reports are very unusual and, as a precaution, I would encourage motorists to safely apply their brakes before they set off on a journey.
Also, check your dashboard for a warning light. If there is damage to your brakes a warning message is likely to appear. It is also a good idea to regularly inspect the underside of your vehicle.
Finally, consider regularly washing your car to remove any scents left by foxes. There are also animal repellents available, which can be applied to vehicles in order to deter foxes."
Tim Ellingham parked his Ford Transit Connect outside a friend's home last Wednesday. The next morning, his brake fluid warning light came on and he discovered the line was severed.
He immediately reported the incident to Kent Police.
He said: "When it originally happened we considered if it been chewed but instantly dismissed it due to the apparent strength of the hoses, thinking an animal wouldn't be able to. Also, surely it wouldn't be attractive to them?
It will be some relief to know I wasn't singled out but then the probability of it happening again goes up as we are likely looking at many foxes instead of a single person.
With no way of guarding against it and therefore everyone being potentially exposed, it makes you wonder how long until a serious consequence occurs?
If true, then trade in stainless steel braided hoses may increase."
Jerry Giles discovered damage to his brake pipes on Friday and assumed it to be the work of vandals.
But he added: "If a wildlife expert says it's foxes then he must be right. There are loads of them round here. This is a real safety issue, I'd warn everyone to get under your car and check."
Foxes have been blamed for chewing through brake lines in other areas of the country including Crawley, West Wickham and Wiltshire
It is thought they particularly like its sweet taste.