Monday, April 23, 2007

Stolen car turns up in Poland

A Shropshire man’s stolen 4×4 car was traced more than 1,000 miles to Poland thanks to an electronic tracking device less than 30 hours after he was duped by a European conman.

Paul Freeman, 28, of Muxton, Telford, has now collected his BMW X5 after police followed its trail through France, Belgium and Germany to a side street in the Polish capital of Warsaw after ’selling’ the vehicle.

Police say it was an excellent example of collaboration across the continent to foil professional car theft gangs.

They were able to follow the stolen car’s route because it was fitted with a device enabling Tracker, a stolen vehicle system operator, to pinpoint its exact location with GPS technology.

Mr Freeman had advertised his BMW, which he had owned from new, through Auto Trader magazine.

He said: “An average looking man, who had a Swedish passport and driving licence, gave me a £28,000 banker’s draft and I kept his driving licence for security.”

Mr Freeman handed over the keys and the man drove off with his car to Dover, where he passed the vehicle to a Lithuanian man who caught the ferry to France.

But the banker’s draft and driving licence turned out to be fakes. Mr Freeman alerted police and Uxbridge-based Tracker.

Within 30 hours, police in Telford and Kent, assisted by Tracker, had traced the BMW and the thief was arrested after Polish police set up a road block.

Mr Freeman said: “I was set to lose everything, had it not been for Tracker. The thief created a scenario which reassured me he was genuine. We were in regular contact prior to the ’sell’ and he even had the audacity to persuade me to take £1,000 off my original asking price.”

Detective Constable Mark Weale, of Telford’s Malinsgate police station, said that it was remarkable the car was traced so quickly.

Parita Patel, Tracker marketing manager, said: “Thanks to the co-operation of the police and our counterparts on the continent, we were able to swiftly trace the car to a side street in Warsaw, 1,144 miles away from where it was taken.”