Garage owner tracks down stolen car

A car garage owner successfully tracked down a customer’s stolen car following a raid on his premises.

Derek Palmer tracked down the vehicle after recognising the thief as a former customer. Palmer went to Matthew Welham’s address in Exwick and searched nearby, stumbling on the Vauxhall Astra with new plates and paintwork in a car park. Welham, 26, admitted burglary and taking the car without the owner’s consent.

For those who do not have the time or ability to turn detective and hunt down stolen vehicles from their site, a combined motor trade insurance policy will help in this situation. Under motor trade insurance, repair garage owners should be protected for any theft of vehicles owned or under the care of the business.

Judge Simon Carr at Exeter Crown Court handed Welham a sentence of four months in jail, suspended for two years and 150 hours of unpaid community work.

The car’s owner, Michael Denford, had left the vehicle at Mr Palmer’s garage for repair work over Christmas, the Exeter Express & Echo reported.

Prosecutor Janice Eagles said: “Mr Palmer undertook his own detective work. He was suspicious of a former client who visited on Christmas Eve and went to the area where he lived in Exwick to look around.

“He discovered the stolen car in a car park at Moorhead Way, close to Welham’s home. It had a different set of number plates and had been disguised by spraying tint on the windows and putting on stickers.

“Mr Palmer was able to recognise it from damage to the front grille and the police were able to confirm it was the same car.”