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Police left trailing by high-speed ram-raiders

A GANG of ram-raiders is making fools out of the police thanks to a 176mph supercar that panda cars simply cannot catch.

Detectives were reduced to appealing for help from the public yesterday after the gang carried out a hit-and-run attack on a newsagent's just 30 yards from a police station.

The ram-raiders have officers stumped because they make their getaway in a pounds 47,000 Lotus Carlton, a 377- horsepower machine with a top speed of 176mph. Built as a collaboration between General Motors and Lotus, the car looks like a Vauxhall Carlton GSi but benefits from major engineering changes based on Lotus engine technology.

The gang stole it from a house in Pershore, Hereford and Worcester, on 26 November and have been using it since to smash through the windows of off-licences and newsagents in the county and in the West Midlands.

There have been raids in Bromsgrove, Redditch, Wythall, Belbroughton, Earlswood and, yesterday, in Rubery. According to the police, their haul of cigarettes and alcohol is approaching pounds 20,000.

'We simply haven't been able to get near the thing and it looks unlikely that we ever will,' PC David Oliver, a local intelligence officer based at Bromsgrove, said. 'Our urban panda cars can only go at 90mph, but we also have a policy of not getting involved in chases. If we did that, the thieves could kill themselves or someone else.'

There are no video pictures of the gang, although officers who watched the aftermath of the attack near Rubery police station said that the thieves did not look like youths. They were white and aged between 20 and 30. There were two yesterday, but officers say that there have been up to four.

'They're obviously getting very cocky to carry out a raid right in front of a police station but they know they can get away once back inside the car,' PC Oliver said. 'Officers in Rubery heard the gang smash through the newsagent's door at about 3am and ran out to investigate immediately. But all they saw was a cloud of dust.

'All the raids have happened between midnight and 5am. Our only chance of catching the gang is if someone can tell us where they are hiding the car during the day.'

The imperial green car has the registration number 40RA.

(Photograph omitted)