Watch: Thief escapes capture by going through customs at Dover port
A thief who stole £5,000 worth of equipment has evaded capture by going through customs and crossing on to French soil at the Port of Dover.
The thief, believed to be a 31-year-old Italian named Luca, carried out a raid on a pub in Dover, Kent, then drove his car into the Channel ferry port just a few hundred yards away.
Because he was deemed to be on French soil after making his way through the ferry terminal, police could not arrest him, even though the victim pointed him out to officers, as the alleged crime was carried out on British soil.
It is understood the suspect has arrived home safely in Italy following the alleged theft on 9 June.
Publican Jemima Burne was tipped off by builders working at the Castle Inn that it had been raided.
The thief was caught on the pub’s CCTV at about 1pm loading equipment into a dark blue Peugeot and driving away.
He had stolen a rare guitar, an amp and other goods from the pub such as cups, saucers and a coffee machine and grinder.
He had timed his raid with an upcoming ferry departure, but Burne tracked him down to the terminal and pointed him out to British police.
However, officers did not make an arrest as the thief had driven through passport control and was on French soil.
She also approached French police but they did not make an arrest as the alleged offence had occurred in the UK.
"I had witnesses, CCTV evidence of him carrying out the crime, pictures of him making his getaway in a car that he was now sitting in - alongside stolen loot,” said Burne.
“Despite all that, the police forces of two countries stood to the side, waved him on to the ferry - and let him off scot-free.”
The suspect had tried to book a room at the Castle Inn the previous evening, but builders told him it was shut because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"He gave his name as Luca,” said Burne. “Police later verified it by checking the car registration number.
"I am told he had been hanging about the area for a few days, trying to get a COVID test."
Burne was at home in Deal when the alarm was raised and by the time she reached the port, the suspect had driven through customs and was ready to board the 2pm ferry.
"I could see him there,” she said. “I pointed him out to the French gendarme and told them he had a car full of stolen stuff.
"They said they could not arrest him because he was now on French soil. Then I approached British port officers. They confirmed the area was under French jurisdiction.
"The Castle Inn is literally the 'last pub in Britain'. It is right next to the ferry.
"It seems there is a little corner of England where criminals can't be touched."
Police sergeant Adam Scott, of Dover Police, said: "He travelled on a one way ticket, so there is no indication as to when he will return to the UK.
"The theft appears to have been timed with embarkation in mind, reducing the chances of capture.
"The vehicle has been nominated on our police system to be stopped should it ever return to the UK.
"Action will then be taken on the occupants regarding this theft."
Dover Police said the suspect could still be arrested on a European Arrest Warrant but that this was “highly unlikely”.
Kent Police refused to comment.