Stolen supercar dumped by thieves

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The Independent Online

Thieves who stole a pounds 1m prototype car with a revolutionary new engine abandoned it yesterday, but kept the pounds 5,000 trailer it had been on.

A member of the public spotted the Renault Safrane supercar dumped in Gillingham town centre, Kent, six-and-a-half hours after it was reported missing from a service station off the M2 three miles away.

A spokeswoman for Renault said it was a "great relief" that the car had been traced - she believed undamaged. As Inspector Mervyn Williams of Kent Police said: "It's bad enough when you lose a Ford Escort ..."

The drama began when the unnamed driver stopped for the night at the service station on Tuesday evening. He was en route from France, where Renault is based, to Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, the British headquarters of Perkins Technology Ltd, a consulting company which works with all the major car manufacturers.

He parked the trailer and the metallic blue-green supercar with French registration plates in the car park. But when he looked out the hotel window just before 7am yesterday both trailer and cargo were gone.

Police appealed for help and at 1.30pm a member of the public spotted the vehicle, minus the trailer, in Gillingham.

Insp Williams said: "It would appear that the thieves were after the trailer and did not really want the car."

John Chandler, a spokesman for Perkins Technology's parent company, the Perkins Group, said: "My expectation is that [the car] will continue its journey with us, but we will be speaking to Renault about the arrangements."