VANDALS who have slashed the tyres of 16 cars in four days could be putting lives at risk, according to a top cop.

Culprits have targeted the vehicles parked in the New Town area of Colchester, including Cromwell Road, Portland Road and Shrubland Road, at night between Wednesday and Sunday.

Officers say it is possible motorists may not notice the damage and continue to drive at normal speeds unaware of the danger which could be caused by a flat tyre or sudden blowout.

Patrols have been increased to try and catch the perpetrators.

Seven vehicles were targeted on Thursday night, with the same number vandalised on Friday.

There were single incidents on Wednesday and Saturday.

In most cases the two offside tyres have been damaged, but some cars have had one or three tyres cut.

Insp Barry Atkinson said: "This crime spate has upset local residents and cost more than £2,500 for replacement tyres.

"But whoever is responsible is also putting lives at risk because if the damaged tyre is not noticed a driver could easily continue routine journeys and might lose control of the vehicle on a fast main road such as the A12.

"In some cases the tyres are completed deflated, others have cuts in the side. But if they are not spotted the consequences could be serious, if not fatal.

"This reckless crime must be stopped and we urge people to be on their guard and report any suspicious activity immediately on 999.

"We have increased patrols in the area and local officers are doing house-to-house enquiries.

"If anyone does have any information about the perpetrators, however insignificant it may seem, they should call officers at Colchester on 101 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.”