A THIEF ditched one stolen car – only to take a Vimto-branded Mini Cooper instead.
The driver of the Mini Cooper Clubman had left the engine running while she chased after her dog that had just run off on Moss Lane, Bickerstaffe, at around 10am on Saturday.
The opportunistic thief pulled up alongside the cream-coloured car, branded with the soft drinks firm’s purple Vimto signs, got in and sped off.
He left a black Suzuki Swift at the scene – a car that had been reported stolen in similar circumstances two days earlier.
The Suzuki’s engine had been left running outside an address on Mellor Close in Prescot, Merseyside, at around 8.20am on Thursday when the thief struck.
The Vimto Mini – registration number PJ10 SZU – was spotted by police cameras heading in the direction of the M58 later on Saturday.
And there has since been reports of a vehicle matching that description driving erratically in the Widnes area of Cheshire on Monday.
Police are now appealing for anyone who sees the “distinctive” Mini to come forward – and is also warning drivers to always try and lock cars to deter this kind of crime.
Sergeant Steve Monk, of West Lancs CID, said: “This is an unusual set of circumstances, where one stolen car has been abandoned for another one.
“We’d advise drivers to always lock cars and remove keys from the engine, even in an emergency, to deter opportunistic thieves.”
The officer added: “The stolen car is very distinctive and we would ask anyone who sees it to contact the target team on 01695 566 163.”
The abandoned Suzuki Swift is currently being forensically examined by police officers.