Police have mounted a special operation to catch criminal gangs stripping valuable parts from luxury vehicles such as Range Rovers.

Numerous vehicles have been attacked in the district during the past month, with costly LED headlights the main target.

In one incident, a knife was brandished by gang members when a witness tried to intervene.

The quickfire thefts can be completed in as little as 30 seconds, according to some victims, and calls have been made for Land Rover – which manufactures Range Rovers – to take action.

The spate of thefts has resulted in West Yorkshire Police setting up an Operation Emporia squad to catch the gangs.

Michael Roper, licensee of the Dog and Gun in Oxenhope, had the lights and front grille stolen from his Range Rover Sport, which was parked in the pub’s car park.

He said part of the incident, which happened at 3.20am on April 16 and involved at least three men using a small white van, was caught on CCTV.

Mr Roper said: “It is rife. But it is such an easy crime – it is so fast. It took them about ten minutes maximum.”

He added: “You have now got to think twice where you leave these cars. You work hard to afford nice motor cars.”

Mr Roper, 53, claimed the theft caused damage to his vehicle costing between £7,000 and £8,000 to repair.

He said: “I didn’t see it happen. I got a text at 6.30am from the butcher, who had just gone past and saw the lights had gone.”

The headlights are said to cost about £1,000 each. Mr Roper also said he knew of at least 40 other vehicles that had been targeted in similar thefts since.

He added he had now fitted his own security measures to his vehicle to prevent similar thefts in future.

West Yorkshire Police said they had received nine reports of thefts from Range Rovers between April 22 and May 9. They also said they had made eight arrests in that time in relation to the crimes.

Chief Inspector Suzanne Akeroyd said: “Our investigations into this type of crime suggest the main motivation of thieves is the trade in expensive stolen car parts to be fitted to other cars as replacements. West Yorkshire Police is taking this issue very seriously.”

A spokesman for Land Rover said it was investigating the problem.