Shropshire Star

Stolen Audi tracked down in 10 minutes thanks to WhatsApp group

A Shropshire community has shown the power of virtual teamwork after a WhatsApp group helped police find a sports car within 10 minutes of it being reported stolen.

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The Audi R8 was found just a quarter of an hour after it was stolen

Set up by land owners Bradford Estates, the WhatsApp group has almost 60 people in it including local residents, businesses, Bradford Estates team members, farmers and two police constabularies.

The virtual neighbourhood watch group managed to track down the stolen Audi R8 within 10 minutes of it being reported to police when the estates’ farms operations manager, Doug McCowen, spotted it.

Thanks to the quick response, the Audi R8 was reunited with its grateful owner.

Estates director Rob Paul said: “We set the WhatsApp group up two years ago to combat crimes such as fly-tipping and hare coursing.

“Since then the group has helped with numerous offences including stolen diggers and machinery, monitoring suspicious vehicles and even identifying the culprits involved in dumping tyres on private land.”

Doug added: “The WhatsApp group was such an easy thing to set up and it’s made a huge difference to our local area and community.

“Not only has it helped with crimes like the theft of the Audi R8 but it’s also helped us find out when sheep have escaped onto the road or trees have fallen down in a storm quicker than we ever would have before.”

Bradford Estates is a family business with more than 900 years of history being the stewards of 12,000 acres of land in the counties of Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Rob said he was incredibly grateful to the members of the group for reacting quickly whenever they saw something suspicious or were asked to look out for something.

He added: "A community WhatsApp group is the modern day version of neighbourhood watch and it’s something I’d recommend to all communities."

The Bradford Estates team has a close working relationship with the West Mercia and Staffordshire Police constabularies, who are also part of the WhatsApp group and were able to react quickly when the R8 was first discovered. The group also links to other nearby Crime Notification Groups, creating an effective network across the region.

Bradford Estates was fundamental in a regional scheme which helped turn the tide on tyres being illegally dumped after they were repeatedly targeted by fly-tippers during lockdown when rubbish including sofas, toys, building waste and cannabis farm waste was found on verges and roads and in gateways.

The Tyre Tagging scheme meant garages in Shropshire and the surrounding areas were asked to ‘tag’ their tyres, so that they can be traced if dumped illegally.

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