Search for vandal unmasks squirrels
Police called off their hunt for car-wrecking vandals after tracking down the real culprits - a pack of hungry squirrels.
An investigation was launched after seven cars had their brake cables cut or damaged and several homes had their phone cables severed in north Swindon.
Officers issued an appeal and made house-to-house enquiries urging residents to report anyone seen acting suspiciously.
High visibility police patrols were also carried out and many local people were spoken to.
However, Wiltshire Police called off the operation after tests revealed the culprits were squirrels.
Animal welfare experts urged the public not to take the law into their own hands in dealing with the rodents.
Inspector Pete Chamberlain said: "We are looking to work with Swindon Borough Council's pest control officers to try and deal with this issue.
"It is not only ABS cables that the rodents have attacked but several telephone wires in the area so people's lives have been affected in many ways."
A spokesman for the RSPCA added: "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."