Owner of BMW X5 for sale outsmarts thieves who returned to steal his vehicle after taking his car key
A Stansted man outsmarted thieves who took the keys to his car that he was selling.
Matt Butcher had put his BMW X5 up for sale and two men wearing Covid-19 face masks arrived at his home in Churchfields to view it.
"They were overly curious about whether I had two keys and insisted on seeing the spare so they could check it worked," he said. "When my back was turned they swapped the spare key for another BMW key they'd brought with them."
After they left, Matt realised they had given him a dud key and called police. Officers showed him a photo of a suspect's car – a metallic blue-green Citroën Xsara Picasso – and he confirmed it was the same vehicle the duo had used.
"The annoying thing was that I was trying to sell my car and now couldn't because they'd stolen a key, which I'd need to replace, plus reprogramme the remaining key," he said. "They also stole my service history, which would knock thousands off the selling price. I really wanted to catch them when they came back so I could get my key back."
Matt got his chance later the same day.
"Sure enough, as soon as it was dark they returned, and from my kitchen I heard someone trying to start my car," he said.
But there was no chance of the thieves taking the car. "I removed the fuel pump relay so the car would turn over but not start if anyone tried to start it with a key," said Matt.
He went out to confront the would-be thief. "I started banging on the driver's door window to tell him the police were coming. After a small tussle he pushed past me as he got out of my car to run away, damaging next door's car in the process."
Essex Police officers located the pair near Stansted Airport using automatic number plate recognition cameras and pursued themdown the M11, but they pulled over onto the hard shoulder, leapt out of their car and fled on foot towards Great Hallingbury.
Matt was able to get back the items they had taken from him. "He left my key in the ignition and had dropped the service history on the floor, so for me it all ended well. I sold the car a few days later."
He contacted the Indie to make other car owners aware of the theft tactic after reading of three men who stole a Mercedes for sale in Bishop's Stortford. "The more publicity about this key-swapping car theft scam the better, so others don't fall victim," he said.