'Professional' car thieves target garage

ONE of the region's biggest car dealerships has been targeted by a 'professional' gang who stole seven cars worth thousands of pounds from its Lowestoft branch.

ONE of the region's biggest car dealerships has been targeted by a 'professional' gang who stole seven cars worth thousands of pounds from its Lowestoft branch.

Five VWs, an Audi and a Seat were taken from Robinsons at Cooke Road, Gisleham, on the South Lowestoft Industrial Estate, between Sunday afternoon and 5.50am on Monday.

Five cars were later recovered in Pakefield but one of the cars - a VW Passat - was driven out of the county and police believe the showroom could have been targeted by thieves from outside the area.

Robinsons has 15 dealerships across the region, including showrooms at Norwich, King's Lynn and North Walsham and employs about 600 people in total.

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Andrew McCrostie, general manager of the Lowestoft branch, said all the other dealerships had been alerted to the theft.

'It was very carefully orchestrated; clearly the people knew what they were doing,' he said.

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'The police said the security system we have here is very robust.

'It looks like a professional gang have done this and we are taking steps to make sure that it won't happen again.'

Mr McCrostie also praised diligent members of staff who worked with officers to track down the cars that had been stolen.

Police on patrol in the Cooke Road area on Monday discovered the site had been broken into. It is thought keys were stolen from a workshop area before the cars were driven away.

Five cars were recovered: a black VW at Kingston Close just off Ship Road; a grey VW in Lansdowne Road; a grey Seat in Kilbourne Road and a red VW in Speedwell Close and a blue VW in Witney Road.

At this stage two cars are still to be located: a black Audi A3, registration AO59 FHD and a VW Passat, registration AO59 UYY. There is a problem with the steering on the Audi and it is unlikely to have been driven far.

Det Con Gary Small said that, in his 15 year career, he had never investigated the theft of so many cars in one go.

'It's pure speculation, but this is certainly the type of crime we have suffered from locally recently. Possibly, it was people from outside the area,' he said.

'At the moment we have responded to a report of the crime and recovery of the vehicles. It is the subject of ongoing inquiries.'

Det Con Small said the cars did not seem to be selected for any reason other than the thieves matched the keys that they could find.

Police also want to trace the occupants of a black Vauxhall Astra car, with tinted windows and black alloy wheels, which was seen in several of the locations where the vehicles were found and was recovered in Kent yesterday.

Call Lowestoft CID on 01986 835000 with information about the burglary or the cars.

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