A Ramsgate couple were shocked to find themselves caught up in a police hunt for catalytic converter thieves who had targeted a pensioner on the Nethercourt estate last night (February 22).
Josh and Danielle were driving back to their home on the estate at around 9pm when they saw a car being driven so fast it “was nearly out of control.”
The vehicle was being used to flee the scene of the reported catalytic converter theft in Coniston Avenue where an elderly resident had heard a noise on his driveway and then seen a group of around four men surrounding his car.
One of the men, described as tall, largely built, wearing white trousers, a hooded top and holding a metal pole, is reported to have approached the man’s window and told him to stay inside.
The suspects then left by car and the victim found that his catalytic converter was missing.
This is when they ran into Danielle and Josh, who heads up the estate’s Neighbourhood Watch patrol.
Josh said: “As we came into the estate, the car was just leaving the scene, It was speeding down Coniston onto Rydal avenue, and was so fast it was nearly out of control.
“As they came beside me I noticed some kind of tool or weapon one man’s lap, so I just carried on. They sped off.
“I rang the police just after they left me and found a police car was already on the estate.
“I went and spoke to him, sent the message out across the estate and started getting cameras checked. The group is seen on a few cameras and seemed to be targeting hybrid cars, probably due to the value of the converter.”
A van was also stopped in the area but nothing suspicious was found.
The car used by the suspected thieves was spotted by police during the early hours of this morning and officers followed it to the A256 Sandwich Road, where it was abandoned at Pegwell Bay near to the entrance of the nature reserve.
Four catalytic converters had been discarded near to the vehicle along with a car jack. PC David Rangeley and his dog Yankee tracked the suspects along a footpath where they found a discarded jacket and shortly afterwards saw a man on the roof of a nearby petrol station. The man, aged 18, was detained on suspicion of theft from a vehicle.
The search for further suspects was carried out in the area but no one was found. At around 11am today a second man, aged 24 from Folkestone, was arrested in connection with the incident.
Josh said: “Other members of the watch came out just to keep a general eye on the area, and we informed and joined the Cliffsend watch group to make sure the suspects weren’t lurking around over there.
“It was a bit of a shock coming round the corner and seeing a car speeding and skidding towards you and then finding out what was going on!”
Spate of thefts
Several other catalytic converter thefts were reported the same evening in St James Avenue, Millfield Road and Rydal Avenue.
On February 14 officers were also called to a report that three men had been seen removing part of a vehicle’s exhaust in Southwood Gardens, Ramsgate.
An investigation into the incident is ongoing and anyone with any information, or who has dashcam or CCTV footage of the incident, is asked to call Kent Police on 01843 222289, quoting reference 46/24443/21.
Enquiries remain ongoing and detectives are looking into whether all the incidents are connected.
Anyone who witnessed anything suspicious or has any information regarding any of the thefts should call Kent Police on 01843 222289 quoting reference 46/29586/21. You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555 111, or by visiting the website.