First they check it, then they steal it

The 2004 Toyota LandCruiser. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

The 2004 Toyota LandCruiser. Picture: KYLIE ESLER

BRAZEN thieves questioned a car dealer about a top-of-the-range Toyota LandCruiser, before returning that night to drive it off the lot.

Police say a man, 43, and his girlfriend, 21, both from Wodonga, caught a train to Melbourne on Tuesday and then travelled on to Warragul.

There, at Drouin Car Sales, they posed as would-be buyers and asked a salesman about the $40,000 vehicle.

The woman is said to have distracted the dealer, allowing the man to pocket a key to the vehicle that they stole that night.

“They drove the car through a locked gate, causing a small amount of damage,” Wodonga’s Detective Senior Constable Justin Foots said.

“They’ve driven it to Wodonga, stealing diesel fuel at an unknown service station on the way.

“It was brazen.

“We arrested them at a Melbourne Road caravan park on Wednesday.”

Detective Senior Constable Foots said police had found the vehicle at the Birallee Shopping Centre car park and questioned the couple.

“He allegedly parked it there so, police wouldn’t know who put it there,” he said.

The incident was caught on several cameras.

Detective Sen-Constable Foots said Warragul police had told Wod- onga the couple were suspects in the robbery.

He said the intention was to strip down the car and sell parts and, possibly, “rebirth” it.

“The owner is extremely grateful to get it back in those circumstances.

“He was surprised to learn it was not insured.”

A Drouin Car Sales staff member caught the train to Wodonga yesterday to retrieve the 2004 model four-wheel-drive.

The couple have been charged with theft of keys, a motor vehicle and of fuel.

The man is also facing charges of theft of plates and trespass.

They have been bailed to appear before the Wodonga Magistrates Court on August 5.

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