Cars stolen

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

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THE callous thieves who stole two cars from a car vehicle repair garage on the outskirts of Rathfriland last week, have not yet been apprehended.
Three vehicles were stolen from two separate properties in the early hours of last Thursday (20 July) morning.
One vehicle was recovered at the time that another theft was realised, while one other vehicle was recovered 14 hours after it was stolen, thanks to the power of social media.
Leonard Graham and Sons Car Body Repair business on the Gransha Road, were first alerted to the theft at around 4.40am last Thursday morning.
Mr Graham's wife thought she had heard their dog barking but initially put it down to foxes running about the yard, as that is something that would regularly occur.
However, when the dog did not stop and she heard their geese also making noise, she got up to look to see what was going on.
“She looked out the window and saw a silver jeep parked on the driveway between her house and the business entrance. It was about sunrise," Mrs Graham's daughter-in-law, Gail told The Outlook.
“She wondered what that was doing there and went to another room to look out. It was then she saw there was a light coming from the work garage in the yard and she went out to see why it was on.
“She walked across the yard, initially thinking it was maybe someone leaving something off, as that can happen sometimes early in the morning, but she saw the shutter was up and there was nothing in the garage.
“She ran back into the house to get Leonard and then they came across to waken my husband, Ben."
Gail said the thieves had ransacked the office to find the keys for the two vehicles, a red and a black Mercedes both of which were being repaired.
“The black car was on the ramp so they had to take it off it and drove away in it with only two wheel nuts in the tyre and half a bumper on."
When police arrived it transpired the silver jeep in the driveway had actually been stolen earlier in the night from a farm on the Drumarkin Road in Rathfriland.
“The police were able to tell us that after they stole the silver jeep they travelled to Castlewellan and then back to ours. It doesn't make much sense,"she said.
Detectives are also investigating a possible link to an attempted break-in at commercial premises in the John Street area shortly after 4.15am.
The culprits had attempted to enter the premises but were unable to gain access.
Gail said when she was told the thefts had occurred she immediately went online to share the information.
“My father-in-law actually used to own the red car, so we had photos of it and were able to put pictures up of what it looked like. We asked everyone to share the post, so that it could reach as far as possible in case anyone saw it.
“At around 5.50pm on the Thursday evening I received a message from someone who said they believed they had seen the red car."
After this initial contact along with photographs of the car confirming it was the same one, Gail contacted police to notify them.
“An hour later he sent me a photo of it being towed away. Unfortunately the police believe it had just been left there and have found no evidence pointing to the perpetrators behind this," said Gail.
“They think they just abandoned it there as they carried out door-to-door enquiries but nothing was found."
Gail says if it was not for social media she does not know if they would even have that car back at the present time.
“I normally detest Facebook but the fact of the matter is Facebook brought that car back and if it is used in the right way, it is the most powerful tool there is."
She added that while her family are distraught, they feel for the owners of the car which is still missing.
“It is hard to believe that someone is now without a car when it was in our care. They have been very understanding, but it is they who are the real victims here.
“Someone had to know the cars were there and were watching us, which is very frightening.
“We have always felt so safe and secure and in over 20 years of business, nothing like this has happened before."
Gail added they are already looking at increasing security on site.
Alderman Elizabeth Ingram said "the reported thefts of vehicles is something that is frustrating and annoying for the owners and may well put them out of pocket financially".
“Thankfully I understand some of the vehicles were recovered. I have been liaising with the PSNI regarding these thefts and I would ask the public to remain vigilant and continue to report any suspicious activity to the PSNI, so that the culprits can be brought before the courts."
The PSNI are appealing for anyone with any information which can assist with the investigation to contact detectives at Newry Criminal Investigation Branch by calling 101, quoting reference 174 20/07/17.


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