THIEVES stole a luxury car and £8,000 of cigarettes in a spate of burglaries across the county, including West Oxfordshire, in the early hours of Friday.
Police last night said they were linking the five raids, which targeted four shops and a house, and caused £15,000 of damage.
At about 3.30am, thieves forced their way into Martins newsagent in Market Place, Wantage, and made off with cigarettes worth £1,000.
At some point between 3am and 9am, a Porsche Cayenne 4x4 was taken from a house in Great Close Road, Yarnton, after burglars broke in and stole credit cards, cash, and car keys.
At about 4.40am, a car was reversed through the front of the shop on the forecourt of the Suzuki garage in Witney Road, Long Hanborough, and cigarettes worth £2,500 stolen.
About ten minutes later, the front door of the Londis newsagent in Hailey Road, Witney, was prized open, and £3,000 of cigarettes taken. And at 5.15am, McColls newsagent in Burford Road, Carterton, was raided, and £1,500 of cigarettes taken.
John Boardman, the owner of the Suzuki garage and shop in Long Hanborough, said: “There’s an alarm system in the shop, and several people heard or saw something and rang police.
“There’s what’s called a gantry, a locked cabinet, that hangs on the wall behind the counter with cigarettes in. They just unhooked it and took the whole thing away.
“We had a similar incident in November last year. It wasn’t quite the same as this. That time, they used a crowbar.
“It’s difficult to say how much damage they caused, but we will probably need a new security door and some building work done on the brickwork, so it’s probably about £5,000 or £6,000.
Sixty-year-old Mr Boardman, who lives in Witney and has owned the garage for almost ten years, added: “I would imagine they sell the cigarettes on and go around pubs selling packets — they certainly seemed well prepared.
“We may well look at putting bollards in front of the shop, but they’ll find a different way in, it’s a never-ending battle.”
On Friday, police confirmed two men had been arrested in connection with the raids.
Phil Mundy, the manager of the Martins store in Wantage, said: “They stole about a grand’s worth of cigarettes. It’s not something that happens particularly frequently around here.”
Det Sgt Craig Kirby said: “Two men, aged 24 and 28, were arrested on Friday morning in Cheltenham and we have also recovered the stolen Porsche in Cheltenham.
“They are currently being questioned by officers.
“We would like to hear from anyone who may have seen anyone around these locations acting suspiciously, or may have seen the break-ins taking place.”
l Anyone with information should call police on 08458 505505 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.