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Spartan vandal wreaks auto havoc

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Car insurance adjusters will no doubt be as mystified as the police over an outbreak of vandalism in Essex.

The word `Spartan` has been scratched into the paintwork of more than 100 cars in the Laindon commuter outpost west of Basildon, causing £70,000 damage.

It has left at least one policeman scratching his head. Chief Inspector Simon Dobinson said that although "we've considered a number of connotations of the word Spartan in various contexts", it remains a mystery.

But of one thing he is sure. "I personally believe this was a premeditated, considered and malicious attack by the same person, owing to the similarity of the writing and the proximity of the crimes," he said.

For those lacking a classical education, the Spartan Army was the military force of Sparta, one of the leading city-states of ancient Greece, whose citizens' primary obligation was to be good soldiers.

Subject to military drill from infancy, the Spartans were one of the most disciplined, well-trained and feared military forces in world history.

© Press Association 2009