POLICE have been accused of ignoring villagers' calls for help after vandals smashed windscreens, ripped off steering wheels and moved a car in an early morning wrecking spree.

The chaos started on the forecourt of Seer Green Motors and spilled out into residential streets, as more than a dozen cars were trashed in the dawn raid in Seer Green on Sunday.

Police were alerted to the damage by a resident who woke shortly after 3.30am to the sound of his Mini's windscreen being shattered Ð yet despite a flurry of irate phone calls from residents officers did not appear until Tuesday, two days later.

John Richardson, manager of the School Lane garage where nine vehicles were vandalised, told the Free Press he tried to report the offences later that day but gave up after the phone was left ringing for more than 20 minutes.

Police told the Free Press that technological problems on their non-emergency telephone line were to blame.

Mr Richardson said: "At least three of my neighbours called the police and reported the crimes.

"It's the worse case of vandalism I've ever seen. They did a horrendous amount of damage."

He added: "Our cars were smashed and nearly stolen but the police said they can do nothing. Is there something wrong with me when I think the police should be there to reassure people that they are at least trying to make things safer?"

Vandals broke into a series of cars on the forecourt by smashing windows and managed to push one several metres across the road.

But attempts to steal vehicles were foiled by immobilisers Ð so attentions were turned to parked cars in nearby Hearn's Meadow.

John Mclean, who woke up to find his Skoda's window smashed, said: "It's a bloody disgrace. There were damaged cars everywhere you looked on Sunday morning and the police just didn't want to know.

"There was smashed glass everywhere. One car was completely sprayed with a foam fire extinguisher, another had the soft top torn open and its steering wheel completely pulled out of the steering column. It was a dreadful mess."

Terry Harding, whose car was ransacked and had two windows broken, added: "It looked like a gang of people had just walked up both sides of the street attacking random cars.

"I've lived in this street more than 50 years, there's been mischief obviously, but never anything on the scale of this."

Chiltern Vale Police blames a centralised call centre system for the delay, which only logs non-emergency phone calls when staff are present to man the lines.

A spokesman said: "We're aware people are experiencing major problems with our non-emergency call system Ð but we cannot investigate crimes that have not been reported.

"We are introducing a new state-of-the-art system at the moment, but there are technological problems so users will have problems contacting us. We just ask that people are patient while we work on a solution."

Sgt Gerry Lister, beat officer for Seer Green, said he would not tolerate behaviour like this and was investigating the incidents.