Wheel anti-theft device sales up as Tyre Extinguishers ‘struggle to keep up’ with deflation outbreaks

Protesters say large vehicles are disaster for planet

Samuel Webb
Thursday 19 May 2022 21:14
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<p>A still from an instructional video put out by Tyre Extinguishers</p>

A still from an instructional video put out by Tyre Extinguishers

More 4x4 drivers are buying devices to protect their car’s wheels as more and more of the petrol-guzzling vehicles are targeted by climate activists.

Tyre Extinguishers is a loose affiliation of demonstrators who deflate SUV tyres by forcing a small object – often a lentil – inside the air valve to hold it open until the wheel is flat.

The direct action protesters say large vehicles are a disaster for the planet because they cause greenhouse gas emissions, health problems from air pollution, and a greater danger on the roads.

Marion Walker, of the Tyre Extinguishers, said: "We’re struggling to keep up with the pace at which our campaign is expanding.

“If you own a huge polluting SUV, you have two choices – get rid of it, or live with the increasing risk of having it repeatedly deflated."

The acceleration in deflations has caused a rise in sales of anti-theft valve caps, says Piers Richings, founder of automotive accessories retailer Richbrook International.

He said: “We have seen a rise in sales from our website and resellers, such as Halfords.

“It’s difficult to pin it to what is going on with 4x4s but word gets around and drivers think ‘I don’t want to be next’.”

The movement has spread globally, with SUVs targeted in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and the US states of Arizona and Colorado.

The group claims Tyre Extinguishers in Bristol deflated 50 SUVs on Tuesday evening, while on the continent, Swiss Tyre Extinguishers deflated 40 SUVs in Zurich over five days.

But their methods are controversial and they have been accused of endangering drivers and sometimes “disarming” hybrid and electric vehicles.

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