VIDEO: Thief texts victim to say 'Merry Xmas - I've nicked your van'
A THIEF taunted his victim with a text message reading: “Merry Christmas — I’ve nicked your van”.
He struck after a driver from Egerton-based Merlin Engineering left the keys in the van’s ignition while on a job at a firm in Radcliffe.
A small van was caught on CCTV pulling up across the road from the firm’s yard. A passenger can be seen getting out of the vehicle and walking across the road before he gets into the £30,000 Volkswagen Crafter van which he drives off at high speed, damaging another van in the process.
A mobile phone belonging to Merlin’s managing director Tony Anderton was in the van when it was stolen.
Text messages were sent from the phone to a number stored in it and several nuisance phone calls were made to others.
Mr Anderton, who employs 30 staff at Dunscar Business Park off Blackburn Road, said: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw that text. I even replied to offer them cash if they brought the van back, but I have heard nothing.
“The van had £10,000 worth of stock and equipment in it and, because the keys were in the ignition, insurance won’t pay out.
“The money I have lost is a huge loss for me and a blow to the company.
“I have only had the van for four months and I will start making repayments for it in February — for something I no longer have.
“I also had to redo all the deliveries and apologise to a lot of my clients, who were understanding given the circumstances.”
The theft took place at 2.30pm on December 9 at Colour Anodising in Holland Street, Radcliffe.
Merlin is a packaging firm established by Mr Anderton’s father in 1969.
Mr Anderton has put CCTV footage of the theft on the internet in a bid to catch the offenders.
It shows the white van reverse into Colour Anodising’s yard.
At the point the driver leaves the van, a blue vehicle, believed to be a Renalut Kangoo car, comes into shot.
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Ten seconds after the van driver goes indoors, a man gets out of the car and walks casually towards the van.
He looks to see if the keys are in the ignition, quickly opens the door and drives off.
A police spokesman confirmed they were investigating and asked anyone with information to call them on 101.