Car thieves target Newcastle garage
A GANG broke into a garage before stealing four vehicles worth £16,000 and driving them around parts of North Staffordshire.
Thieves forced their way into Castletown Garage, in Newcastle, before smashing the key box and stealing two cars.
They then returned later in the night to take a motorbike and car which were parked on the forecourt.
The stolen vehicles all belonged to customers and included a silver Jeep Cherokee, white Renault Kangoo van, a silver Vauxhall Astra and a Honda XR250 motorbike.
Two of the vehicles were later found burnt out and a third was involved in a crash following the thefts from the Liverpool Road site in the early hours of Sunday.
Joint owner Stephen Withington, aged 48, from Newcastle, said: "The first we knew of anything was on Sunday when I came to pick up some equipment.
"I noticed straight away because we use the side door and it was left open on a latch so I called 999.
"We didn't know at that point if someone was still hiding in the building.
"After the police came we started noticing that the vehicles had been taken."
The four vehicles had been waiting for repairs or servicing when they were stolen some time between 1pm on Saturday and 7.50am the following day.
Stephen added: "The worst part was telephoning the customers and saying their pride and joy is no longer their pride and joy.
"It wasn't a very nice thing to have to do."
The Renault Kangoo and Vauxhall Astra were found by police burnt out in Congleton Road, Mow Cop, later on Sunday.
The Jeep was also recovered after it was involved in a crash with a parked car in Gordon Road, Goldenhill, on the same day.
Police say the motorbike is still missing.
Garage co-owner Kieran Cassidy, aged 26, from Newcastle, said: "We found out that three of the vehicles had been found at the impound by police and we identified them from photographs.
"It just makes you angry that they have taken these cars and destroyed them for no reason whatsoever – it's not like they were trying to even sell them on.
"They have just taken them and smashed them up."
The family-run independent garage, which has been going for 30 years, has contacted its insurers and will be covered for any losses.
But Stephen and Kieran say they are are still keen to catch the culprits.
Stephen added: "We have CCTV throughout the garage and we had just updated our technology three weeks before the theft took place.
"But when they came in they pinched the central box that records it all.
"There must have been lots of people around at that time, walking back from a night out and someone must have seen something."
A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We are appealing for witnesses after three vehicles and an off-road motorbike were stolen from a garage in Newcastle."
Anyone with information, is asked to contact DS Phil Bryan at Staffordshire Police on 101 quoting incident number 236 of January 27, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.