A TEENAGER and his mother tracked his car, stolen from outside their Albury house early yesterday, by following its engine noise.
But when they caught up with it, the thieves gave them the slip before setting the prized Commodore on fire on Nail Can Hill, destroying it.
The factory worker, 19, woke to the screeching sounds of his hotted-up purple Holden speeding from the front of his Wyse Street home just after midnight.
The teen, who wanted to be called Tom to protect his identity, said he and his mother had leapt out of bed and, within seconds, were chasing the 2003 vehicle in her car.
“Mum, mum, someone has stolen my car,” he yelled when he heard the thieves.
“We flew outside,” he said.
Tom’s mother drove because he had lost his licence for three months in January.
The fast-moving Commodore swiped a pole soon after it was taken and was quickly out of sight.
The pair followed the sound of its engine, not expecting to catch it.
But when stopped at traffic lights at the Wodonga Place-Hume Street intersection, his car pulled up behind them.
“I flew out of the car yelling at him to get out,” Tom said. “I sort of went on a rampage.”
But the thief, who he recognised, reversed at speed, all the way to Smollett Street.
The short and skinny male driver had blond hair and his female passenger brown. Both are about 18.
At 2.40am, Tom had a “devastating” call telling him his car was on fire in bushland off Jacaranda Street, West Albury.
Laurina Jones had phoned firefighters an hour earlier, after seeing smoke about 600 metres from her home.
“I heard tyres popping and the horn going off,” she said.
“It could have set my house on fire.”
Ms Jones said there had been up to six car fires in the bush near her house where she has lived for 10 years.
A blaze in January had come close to her house.
It took 25 Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue firefighters from Albury, Lavington and Thurgoona about an hour to put out the car and a hectare of bush.
Lavington RFS senior deputy captain Craig Groch said such fires could trap a bush walker or spread to nearby homes.
“It was a roaring fire,” he said. “If the wind had been stronger, we would have had trouble stopping it.”
The car was left “just like a shell”, Tom said.
The teen, who is still paying off the vehicle he bought 10 months ago, had put a new stereo system in it only a day earlier.
“I just feel violated,” he said.
“People work hard for their stuff. You shouldn’t just take it from them.”
Police are investigating.
Anyone with information should phone Albury police on (02) 6023 9299 or Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.