A key worker says he is humbled and grateful for the community's support after thieves caused hundreds of pounds worth of damage to his car.

Adult special needs carer Andrew Talbot, from Rawtenstall, relies on his Honda Jazz Sport to carry out home visits.

But he was left "gutted" after he popped into Tesco in Rawtenstall for less than ten minutes, only to return to find his catalytic converter had been stolen in the store car park.

The theft took place on January 11 shortly before 4pm, and left Andrew facing a repair bill of more than £300 and having to take a day off while his car was fixed.

After the theft was publicised on social media by his sisters, Andrew, who works for Lancashire County Council, received an outpouring of support, plus more than £200 in donations.

"I want to praise people for their kind thoughts," he said.

"I was just a bit gutted, but it's given me a boost, and I feel quite humbled. I was fortunate I got some help; other people might not be so fortunate.

"There was quite a lot of anger about it because I'm on the front line. I have put myself in a bubble for over a year, and the people I work with are very vulnerable."

Andrew, 52, said when he turned the key in the ignition it sounded "like a Sherman tank". He carefully drove down to the local exhaust centre, where he was shown where the part had been cleanly cut out.

He said: "The guy said they've been having that many [incidents] that the prices have gone down for repairs.

"I've had quite a lot of responses about it; a lot of people are having their cars done outside their house in broad daylight. It's only taking a minute to do, but they have to jack your car up and use a power tool to do it. It's quite brazen."

Andrew said one of his sisters, who also lives in Rossendale, had previously suffered the same fate.

"The number of people that have had their cars done is quite an eye opener," he said.

"I want it to be a warning that people are that desperate for money these days and they're going to do your car. It just seems to be going under the radar; I think the police need to take it a bit more serious.

"There's another double whammy that, because they are not that expensive cars, the costings are actually writing off a lot of cars, which is quite devastating."

One Valley garage told LancsLive they have seen a spate of identical thefts from Japanese vehicles - particularly the Honda Jazz - over the past 12 months, after Mercedes Sprinter vans were previously often targeted.

Lancashire Police have been contacted for comment.

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