THREE young yobs have escaped with little more than a slap on the wrist after police caught them on a car-wrecking spree.

The boys, aged 15 and 16, went on the rampage in Woodlands Park, Leigh, where they smashed up nine cars in a row.

Police tracked the youngsters to their Benfleet homes and they all admitted to causing criminal damage on the night of April 25.

Now residents are fuming because the boys were all let off with a warning.

One car owner, who works as a chauffeur, but asked not to be named, was appalled by the lack of punishment for the boys.

His BMW suffered £2,800 damage and he lost three days work while it was fixed.

He said: “They have been caught, but there’s no punishment.

“It seems any boy or girl can go out and cause damage for the first or second time and get away with it. I don’t understand our legal system.”

The car owners were told the boys had each given a final warning by police, which means they must have committed an offence in the past and been let off with an even lighter reprimand.

The system means if they commit a third offence, they will be taken to court.

Essex Police spokesman Julia Pack said: “Final warnings are part of restorative justice and are a fully-researched system.

“A very significant percentage of people who go through that system never reoffend.

“It gives youngsters the chance to rehabilitate without having a criminal record preventing them from leading a law-abiding life as an adult. The police take criminal damage extremely seriously and victims can obtain details of the boys involved from us, should they wish to pursue civil action to seek compensation for the damage from the boys’ guardians.”