Man tracks down stolen van with help of Facebook
A BUSINESS owner whose van was stolen by thieves claimed the way the police investigated the crime was “disgraceful” after he was forced to find the vehicle himself using social media.
Tomos Owen, 34, was staying at his partner Karina KiKi Tsoi’s home in Cardiff on Tuesday evening but he was woken the next morning to say there had been fraudulent activity on his debit card.
When he went outside the house he realised Ms Tsoi’s car had been broken into, the spare key to his van had been taken, and the van was gone.
Mr Owen contacted police and was told officers would come out to see him.
He said: “I run a knife sharpening business. My stuff is quite specific to my job. I can only imagine they thought my van was full of knives but that’s not the case.
“The police took three to four hours to come out and they said there wasn’t much they could do so we started looking for the van ourselves.”
Using information provided by his bank Mr Owen discovered that his card had been used in a number of locations in the city. After contacting these businesses Mr Owen took to Facebook and posted photos of his van and the fact it was stolen to a number of groups relating to Cardiff. He said: “People said they had seen the van being driven outside their house or down the street.
“I contacted the police again and they said the case had not been allocated an officer yet. I felt the police were doing nothing to help. The implications were quite serious because I was looking at being put out of business.”
Mr Owen returned to his home in the Cynon Valley for the evening but was contacted by a woman from Cardiff who said his van was parked outside her flat.
He said: “I phoned 101 and told the police the van was outside someone’s house and would they be able to go out and see to it.
“They told me they were not going to send a police officer ‘on a whim’ and I thought at this point, ‘What have I got to do to get assistance?’
“They told me not to go there but I couldn’t stay there and do nothing.
“I went down to Cardiff and lo and behold my van was there where the lady said. I phoned the police and at that point I was feeling paranoid because I didn’t know what would happen if I bumped into the thieves. The police said they would make the case their priority and would send officers there straight away.
“I waited there for an hour and a friend turned up as well. The thieves had trashed the back of my van, taken everything out of there, and it looked as though they had taken it for a good joyride.
“I waited another hour and the officers said they were busy and asked if I could move the van. Since then here has been no communication from the police.”
Mr Owen said he was disappointed at the way South Wales Police had handled the case and he would be making an official complaint.
He added: “Facebook and the good people of Cardiff have helped me relocate my van. I am just a normal person and I have been able to track down my van and take it back myself before they were able to. What were the police doing? I think it’s disgraceful how they have handled the case and I will be making a formal complaint.
“Social media is doing a better job than the police and I don’t think it’s right. They should be held accountable for that. If I waited for the police I would never have had my van back.”
A spokesman from South Wales Police said: “A crime scene investigator (CSI) attended the broken-in car as soon as they could. A CSI was then been deployed to examine the recovered van.
“Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting ref no 17000424661.”