Crime: ‘Test drive thief’ to be charged for 20 other cases

2008-06-09 00:00

A man fled with a car he was test driving in Pietermaritzburg and led police on a wild chase down the N3 before he was arrested yesterday.

It was later discovered that he is wanted for at least 20 vehicle thefts using the same ruse.

Phil Precious (56), owner of Phil Precious Auto Sales in New England Road, was nursing bruises last night after falling flat on his face in the road as he tried to grab his VW Polo as it sped away.

Precious had accompanied the would-be buyer on a test-drive. The had man claimed to want to trade in his Golf and buy the Polo.

“We first drove to Ashburton, then turned to the city. In Mkondeni, I stopped him from taking a wrong on-ramp to the N3. On the N3, he asked me to drive because his leg was painful. As I alighted, I developed a feeling that something might go wrong because he was slow to open his door.

“As I finished closing the front passenger seat door, I saw him fiddling with the gear lever and I jumped to open the door. But the car suddenly drove off,” said Precious.

As he lay on the tarmac, another car pulled up and the occupants gave him to lift to the Alexandra Road Police Station.

Police spokeswoman Inspector Joey Jeevan said the Dog Unit and Highway Patrol saw the speeding Polo on the N3 southbound and gave chase.

The Polo driver refused to stop, and drove recklessly, “swerving in an attempt to run other vehicles and also one police vehicle off the road”.

The police then shot at the tyres of the car, which hit the road barrier and stopped.

The injured driver was treated by paramedics and arrested.

He may be charged for more than 20 other cases of vehicle theft and hijacking using the same scam. It is believed that he stole a Ford Laser in Durban yesterday morning.

bhans@witness.co.za

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