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Manager rams raiders' vehicle to thwart theft of van at rental yard in New Milton

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A VEHICLE rental company manager foiled a bid by raiders to steal a customer’s van when he rammed his car into their vehicle at its New Milton yard.

Stuart Burton sprang into action after being alerted to the trespass at Practical Car & Van Rental’s Walkford Lane site via its Ring doorbell camera system around 10.50pm last night (Wednesday).

Having seen footage of the masked and gloved trio, he jumped into his Mercedes C220 and raced to the scene.

“When I got there they were cutting through the lock on the gate with an electric tool,” he told the A&T.

“They obviously heard me coming and ran to their van, so I just drove into it – it seemed the right thing to do at the time!

“They just shouted 'car!' and I told them to F-off.

“They ran off, two of them headed towards New Milton and one ran towards Walkford.”

Having called the police en route, Mr Burton remained at the site with the abandoned Suzuki Carry van which the offenders had already loaded with six alloy wheels, until officers arrived about 20 minutes later.

Forensics officers were due to examine the scene this afternoon.

The offenders had cut their way through the bottom of the gate, gained access to a Volkswagen T4 Transporter van and started it up.

They were trying to cut open the gates when Mr Burton intervened.

The gate's damaged lock
The gate's damaged lock

Praising his employee’s quick-thinking, business owner Jonathan Wakefield believed the raiders were less than a minute away from succeeding.

Mr Burton’s car sustained only some scuff marks and a damaged bumper, but he said: “I’d rather write that car off than lose the van.

“When I saw the van started up I just thought I had to do something as I was not letting a customer’s van be stolen.

“It’s annoying that people work hard to buy vans and they’re just going to take it and probably chop it up.”

The attempted theft came shortly after Mr Burton had completed a conversion on the Volkswagen, having installed a pop top, electrics and a television.

Mr Wakefield pointed out that since sharing the video on Facebook several people had reported seeing a van similar to that used by the intruders in other offences.

These included a catalytic converter recently stolen from a vehicle on the Chatsworth Estate, and a foiled attempt to steal tools from developers at Hoburne Naish holiday park the previous night.

The Suzuki Carry was believed to have been stolen from elsewhere as it was fitted with false number plates.

Those with information should contact Hampshire police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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