THIS WEEK IN 1984: City thieves target wrecks and bangers

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Police began hunting for Portsmouth’s ‘phantom’ car thieves, who spirited away one special class of car – old abandoned shells, broken down bangers, and crumpled wrecks.

Detectives warned motorists in Portsmouth to beware the mysterious gang who would tow away a vehicle left in the street after a crash or because it had broken down.

Officers began appealing for anyone who had seen a three-man gang hitching up an abandoned car and towing it away to contact the police immediately.

The gang first struck at Landport, where the 12-year-old shell of a mustard-coloured Maxi was being kept near Tottenham Road. To the owner’s surprise, it became a target for thieves.

While the police were puzzling over the theft, the gang struck again – next time preying on a Fiat 130 whose engine happened to be in bits in its in own boot.