A car was stolen by prospective buyers after being advertised for sale online.
Police are warning sellers on sites such as Gumtree to be on their guard after the theft in Longbenton.
A man selling a Mini via Gumtree was contacted by a caller who wanted to come and see it, arranging a viewing at 2.30pm on Wednesday, January 4.
Two men came to an address in Monarch Court, Longbenton, posing as prospective buyers. They appeared to check the vehicle over and then distracted the owner and drove off in it. The silver coloured Mini Cooper registration YH56 KVT is distinctive with black go faster stripes on the bonnet and roof and black wheel arches
The offenders are described as two men, one aged 25 to 28, 6ft 3-4ins tall, medium build with a full beard, wearing a black North Face jacket, black trousers and a hat.
The other man was slightly shorter around 6ft 2ins tall, slim build wearing glasses and a hat.
Inspector Adrian Maher said: “These types of theft are unusual but we would ask people selling vehicles to be aware that such incidents do happen and to take suitable precautions to avoid becoming a victim.”
Police are appealing for witnesses and for anyone who may be offered this vehicle for sale to contact officers.
Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting reference number 569 of 04/01/17 or ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Police issue the following advice for people selling vehicles on-line:
• Ask the potential buyer for proof of identity and check that they have a valid driver’s licence.
• Ask the buyer to check with their insurance company that they’re covered to drive your car. Even if they have a “driving other cars” policy it will probably only provide third party cover. Contact your insurance company – you may need to get temporary car insurance for the test drive.
• Go with potential buyers on test drives and don’t hand over the keys until you are in the passenger seat.
• Always remove the keys from the ignition before leaving a potential buyer alone in your car and if you change seats part way through, take the keys with you and hand them over when you get back in the car.
• There’s safety and confidence in numbers – ask a friend or relative to accompany you while the buyer is viewing the car and on the test drive.
• Don’t hand over the car keys or documents until your bank has confirmed that it has cleared the full value of the vehicle into your account.
For further crime prevention advice visit www.getsafeonline.org/shopping-banking/buying-selling-vehicles/