Eco-vigilantes say they've deflated tyres on nearly 2,000 SUVs in UK

Eco-vigilantes say they’ve deflated tyres on nearly 2,000 SUVs in a month across the UK boasting they ‘won’t be apprehended’ and say, ‘Better to break the law than allow killer vehicles to be used’

  • The Tyre Extinguishers describe SUVs as ‘a climate disaster’ and ‘unnecessary’
  • Activists have hit SUVs in seven major cities across the UK in the last four weeks
  • SUVs feature elements of standard cars but are larger with off-road capabilities
  • Petrol and diesel-powered models are generally less fuel efficient than cars 
  • Were you hit by The Tyre Extinguishers? Email Jessica.Warren@mailonline.co.uk

Were you targeted by The Tyre Extinguishers?

Get in touch at Jessica.Warren@mailonline.co.uk

Environmental activists claim to have deflated tyres on nearly 2,000 SUVs in the past four weeks.

The Tyre Extinguishers said its supporters have taken action in cities across Britain in an attempt to ‘make it impossible’ to own the vehicles in urban areas.

It describes SUVs as ‘a climate disaster’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘unnecessary’.

SUVs feature elements of standard cars but are larger and have off-road capabilities such as high ground clearance.

Petrol and diesel-powered models are generally less fuel efficient than cars.

The Tyre Extinguishers describes itself as ‘leaderless’ and encourages people to take action by reading instructions on how to deflate tyres on its website.

People can also print off leaflets to leave on the windscreen of affected vehicles to inform drivers what has happened.

Activists are urged to avoid SUVs ‘clearly used’ by people with disabilities or by tradespersons.

As a multiple sclerosis sufferer, Kate Basker never quite knows when or how the condition will affect her. ‘Most of the time I’m really high-functioning and I walk as much as I can,’ the 33-year-old from Bristol said

Rob Derkin spotted that three tyres on his Volkswagen T-Roc were flat when he left to take his daughter to college. Unscrewing the valve caps, he discovered dried legumes within

A new eco mob calling themselves Tyre Extinguishers claim they targeted almost 2,000 SUVs across the UK in the last month, and let air out of the tyres in a bid to have them banned from roads

Legal experts say that although prosecution is unlikely, the activists could actually be committing a criminal offence.

Laura Baumanis, a criminal defence solicitor at legal defence firm Olliers, told MailOnline: ‘Whilst it is extremely rare for someone to be prosecuted for letting the air out of a tyre, technically, it could be classed as criminal damage.

‘For this offence to be satisfied, any damage caused does not have to be permanent, but is made out by virtue of the fact that steps need to be taken, ordinarily at expense to the owner, for the item to be in a working condition again.’

Meanwhile, Matthew Nash, tutor at The University of Law, said if the driver failed to notice the flat tyre and drove away, more serious charges could be brought it they crashed.

He said: ‘Letting out air from someone’s tyres is clear criminal damage.

‘Although technically the tyre is not ‘damaged’, if you do something to someone else’s property and they need to do something to restore it, that is Criminal Damage within the meaning of the Criminal Damage Act.

‘It is possible that if they let the air out of someone’s types so as to cause an accident, there could be more serious charges depending on the resulting damage or injury.

‘It is also possible that there could be other offences if this were done to many cars at the same time.’

Three police forces have confirmed they are investigating multiple reports of criminal damage in Brighton, Liverpool and Cambridge. 

The group, which first took action on March 7, said in a statement: ‘So far, the Tyre Extinguishers have disarmed nearly 2,000 SUVs in the UK, in Brighton, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Bristol and Edinburgh, in repeated actions.

‘Plans are being made to launch the Tyre Extinguishers leaflet in four other languages as interest grows internationally.’

Earlier this week, Sussex Police issued CCTV footage showing two people it wants to trace in connection with tyres being deflated in Brighton.

Marion Walker, a spokeswoman for the Tyre Extinguishers, said: ‘Unless a bobby is posted beside every SUV in the country 24 hours a day, we don’t expect anyone to be apprehended.

‘Better to break the law than allow these killer vehicles to continue to be used on our streets.’

Some of the SUVs that have had their tyres let down were electric and hybrids. 

One electric 4×4 owner who was targeted earlier this month said that he went to great lengths to research the environmental impact of his vehicle before purchasing it. 

William Lowe, from Cambridge, told MailOnline: ‘I was just leaving the house … ironically to attend a sustainability and waste reduction meeting when I noticed the tyres on my electric 4×4 had been deflated and I found their leaflet on my windscreen.

‘I was lucky enough that I had the means to reinflate the tyre at my house so it was only a mild inconvenience which set me back on my day but nevertheless it was very frustrating.

‘We use it for its intended purpose as we have to visit a farm at least twice a week which would otherwise be impossible for a normal car.

‘This is by far the car with the lowest carbon footprint. We were very conscious about that. We’ve been responsible and went to great lengths to research the environmental impact – it’s not like I just purchased the cheapest option.

‘It definitely seemed like the group are using a blunt tool to tackle what is actually a complex problem.’

Mr Lowe, who runs a family-owned gin distillery and owns a Land Rover e-SUV, said he agrees that environmental challenges need tackling but that this is the wrong way to go about it.

Pictured: William Lowe’s tyre, muddy from its use on a farm, was reduced from 50psi to 7psi

‘They even targeted our hybrid car!’ 

Iren Brown and her husband Nick woke up to find all four tyres on the family’s part-electric Toyota Rav 4 had been deflated by activists.

Mr Brown, 64, from Brighton, had to cancel a hospital appointment.

Mrs Brown, 43, said: ‘The Toyota is a hybrid electric car which we bought because we were being mindful of the environmental impact our previous diesel car was having. 

‘But these activists have not taken that into consideration. 

‘I’m so angry because everyone is behind their cause but their tactics are indiscriminate and scattershot.’

The mother-of-two, a kitchen designer, added: ‘Nick is quite a serious diabetic and we may have need to access a vehicle in an emergency. 

‘Their actions could have been dangerous.’

He added: ‘I’m obviously sympathetic to their cause. The environmental situation is dire and needs answering but it’s a complex and nuanced situation that minor acts of vandalism show no signs of improving.

‘This is an important cause but they seem aligned with Extinction Rebellion who are uniquely placed to rally people against the cause they’re trying to unite people behind.’ 

Earlier this month, a pregnant Bristol woman with multiple sclerosis had her car targeted. 

Kate Basker, 33, never quite knows when or how the condition will affect her.

‘Most of the time I’m really high-functioning and I walk as much as I can,’ she said.  

‘But there are other days when I wake up and I can experience extreme fatigue, my body doesn’t move, my brain doesn’t function and I start to lose feeling in my legs and in my left arm.

‘At that point I can barely get out of bed, let alone walk anywhere. Which is why I need a car. If I need to go somewhere, my husband needs to drive me — and I never know when those days are going to happen.’

On Tuesday, March 8, she was alerted by a neighbour to a flat tyre on her Jaguar F-Pace. The leaflet left under the windscreen wipers made it clear it was not an accidental puncture.

‘On bad days I certainly can’t walk the ten minutes to a bus stop then wait the 30 minutes for a bus that may or may not come because Bristol transport is terrible,’ Mrs Basker said. 

‘I’m all in favour of action to combat climate change. But skulking around at night and damaging people’s property is not the way to raise awareness. 

‘I feel we’ve been subjected to bullying, intimidating behaviour. It’s shocking to find out that someone has decided we’re fair game just because of the car we drive, not knowing anything about us.’  

In Brighton, one man had three tyres on his Volkswagen T-Roc let out earlier this month.

Rob Derkin, 58,  discovered dried legumes in the cap, which are being used to push down on the pin in the centre of the valve. 

‘It’s ridiculous that they targeted this car because it has a 1-litre engine and low emissions,’ the music composer said. ‘I specifically chose it because of its low emissions.

‘All this campaign serves to do is make people angry and reinforces the image of activists. It reeks of student idealism — it’s so Brighton that a lentil was involved.’

The group papered targeted vehicles with this lengthy leaflet (pictured), lecturing drivers on why they should get rid of their ‘gas guzzling SUVs’ and use public transport instead

One woman affected posted a photograph of her electric Mercedes-Benz EQC on Twitter as she urged the group to ‘think before you act’.

She wrote: ‘You let down my tyres and I didn’t notice until I started driving with my three children in my car. My car is fully electric.

‘We also had a child that required to be at the hospital for an appointment in the city. Thankfully we had a second car.’ 

The leaflets left on vehicles make little mention of those who have chosen to drive electric vehicles bar one line at the end which reads: ‘Driving a hybrid or electric? These are still polluting, dangerous and cause congestion.’ 

Chris Genner, from Brighton, also drives an electric SUV and wrote a complaint to the Tyre Extinguishers. He told MailOnline he intends to review CCTV and hand any evidence over to the police.

He added: ‘I was surprised but more so disappointed as whilst my vehicle may look like an SUV, it is an electric version which I purposely chose – and paid more for – for its environmental benefits.’

Last year, one of the UK’s most popular selling cars was a Kia Sportage SUV, according to Auto Express. 

SUVs emit 25 per cent more carbon dioxide on average than a medium-sized car, and have jumped in popularity in the UK from nearly seven per cent of private cars sold in the UK in 2009 to more than 21 per cent in 2018, according to the UK energy Research Centre.

Globally, the number of SUVs has increased from less than 50 million in 2010 to around 320 million last year — equivalent to the total car fleet of Europe. Because of their size, on average, SUVs consume around a quarter more energy than medium-sized cars.

A 2019 study by the International Energy Agency found that they rank among the top contributors to energy-related carbon dioxide emissions growth over the past decade — cancelling out the reductions from people switching to electric cars. Because of their size, they are also said to be more dangerous when involved in an accident. 

Were you hit by The Tyre Extinguishers? Email Jessica.Warren@mailonline.co.uk 

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