TWO pay and display machines were stolen from Wigan Council car parks on the same night, it has been revealed.
In both instances the entire machine was stolen, one from the Chapel Street car park and the other from Sovereign Lane.
It is likely that the offenders pulled the machines free using a vehicle and a chain and have drilled into the machines to get any changes before dumping them.
It is not known how much money was in the machines at the time they were stolen but it is not thought to be much as they are regularly emptied.
However, the machines themselves are worth around £5,000.
Shoppers were confronted with a sign at the car park on Saturday reading: “Due to the theft of the pay and display machine recently parking on Saturdays on Chapel Lane car park is now free until further notice.”
Usually a £1 charge applies to park all day on Saturdays. Between Monday and Friday the car park is for permit holders only and is free on Sundays and after 6pm.
Mike Worden, Wigan Council’s assistant director for planning and transport, said: “We have notified the police about the thefts of two of our car park ticket machines on Chapel Lane and Sovereign Road.
“The machines are emptied frequently and so contain very little money and at night none at all but they cost £5,000 each to replace.
“There is also inconvenience to car park users and further loss of income to the council while the machines are being replaced.”
Police confirmed that the council had reported the theft of two parking machine to them. The first was taken at around 10.30pm and the other just before midnight.
A police spokesman said that unknown offenders removed the machine from the Chapel Street car park, which was fixed to the floor, before loading it into the back of a van and escaping.
All three men had their faces covered, probably with balaclavas or something similar, and that the machine was later recovered.
Greater Manchester Police said that enquiries are ongoing and they are reviewing CCTV from the area.
The Wigan Evening Post understands that there have been a spate of similar thefts in the area recently, with parking machines taken from car parks at Wallgate train station and in Newton-le-Willows and Leigh.
It is rumoured that it may be the same gang specifically targeting pay and display machines but the police spokesman was unable to confirm these reports.
The council ask that anyone who saw anyone acting suspiciously in these car parks on the night of Saturday October 19 they should contact the police on 101.