PAINT stripper has been thrown over cars on Canvey, causing thousands of pounds of damage.

Yobs targeted five cars with the substance in a late-night attack in Hawkesbury Road, leaving several needing expensive bodywork repairs.

One owner says he will have to replace all five panels down one side of his Audi.

He blamed the vandalism on the county council’s cost-cutting streetlight switch-off.

The lights have been switched off between midnight and 5am in Castle Point since the middle of January.

Paul Cutting, 65, has lived in HawkesburyRoad for more than a decade.

He said: “I am furious. At least four panels on my car need replacing and the car is only 18 months old. I was quoted £1,200, but I am not paying that much.

“I am sure this is down to the pitch-black conditions of the streets.

“I have CCTV outside my house, but it has been unable to pick anything up as it is so dark.

“I am installing infra-red sensors in the car at the moment, but I shouldn’t have to do that.”

Neighbour Sarah Billins, 40, said her Toyota Aygo had been damaged, but didn’t know how much it would cost to repair.

She said: “I went outside, but at first I didn’t know what had happened to the car.

“I thought it had marks on it, but when I looked closer the paint had been stripped off. It is a disgrace.

“The lights going off can’t have helped the situation. This road is black, so vandals will be more likely to target them.”

Steven Cole, Canvey Independent councillor for Winter Garden ward, said it was a despicable act.

He added: “It really is unbelievable what goes through some people’s minds.

“People should be able to park their cars outside their homes without seeing them damaged in this way.”

A police spokesman confirmed one person had reported vandalism.

He said: “Police are appealing for information after an Audi estate car was damaged.

“It is believed it had paint stripper thrown over it between 6pm on Tuesday and 10.30am on Wednesday.

“Anyone with information is asked to contact the police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.”