A brazen thief caught on camera stealing £5,000 worth of gear in Dover couldn’t be nicked because he had left England by going through customs and was waiting for a ferry to France.
The Italian committed the ‘perfect crime’ by raiding a pub and driving into a Channel ferry port – a few hundred yards away.
Once there, he couldn’t be arrested – by Dover cops or the gendarme – despite being pointed out by the enraged victim.
He was deemed to be on French soil – while the burglary had been committed on British soil.
The bearded suspect, a 31 year old called Luca is understood to have arrived safely home in Italy.
Publican Jemima Burne, 29, was tipped off about the daylight raid by builders working at the Castle Inn.
He timed it to coincide with his hasty departure. He calmly strolled into the bar helping himself to a rare guitar, an amp and a variety of other goods.
He was caught on CCTV around 1pm on June 9 loading his swag into a dark blue Peugeot – and made off.
But furious Jemima tracked him down – into the nearby terminal.
The offender was pointed out to British police and the whole crime had been recorded on the pub’s CCTV.
But officers refused to make an arrest. The burglar had driven through passport control – and was now on ‘French soil’.
Undeterred, the gendarme at the port was approached but they refused to make an arrest – because the offence had been carried out in the UK.
Jemima said: “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.
“Despite all that, the police forces of two countries stood to the side, waved this criminal scumbag onto the ferry – and let him off scot free.
“Thank the Lord he hadn’t done something more serious like murdered me.
“In that case, they’d have probably offered him free counselling and a satnav to find his way home safely.
“I thought Brexit meant we were taking back control of our borders – not handing them over to the French.
“The idiocy of it all has left me absolutely fuming while this crook will be back home now playing tunes on my guitar through my amp and laughing his head off.
“He also took cups, saucers, a coffee machine and grinder – basically, anything he could lay his hands on.
“To cap it all, the Kent police have now sent me a ridiculous explanation for their behaviour.
“They say they can’t tell me the criminal’s name, even though they know it, to protect his privacy under data protection laws and they can’t be bothered issuing a European Arrest Warrant.
“They’ve actually suggested I ask the Italian police if they could ask him to send me back my property – as if a criminal is going to do that voluntarily.
“I employ people and pay taxes and I’ve been absolutely shafted by a foreign crook, aided and abetted by my local police force.”
Scruffy Luca had tried to book a room the previous night. The builders explained it was shut because of Covid.
Jemima said: “He gave his name as Luca. 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.”
Jemima was home in nearby Deal when the alarm was raised. By the time she reached the port, Luca had driven straight through Customs – ready to board the 2pm ferry.
She said: “I could see him there. 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.”
Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras showed the car entering the port at 1.15pm.
It boarded a Dover to Calais ferry that was sailing at 2pm – out of Dover Port Police jurisdiction.
Police Sergeant Adam Scott, of Dover Police, said DFDS Seaways identified the culprit.
He 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.”
PC Ian Woodland, also of Dover Police, said if circumstances were reversed – with Italian police requesting they take action – it would also have to be politely refused for the same reasons.
Luca could yet be arrested via a European Arrest Warrant, but he described this as “highly unlikely.”
Added PC Woodland: “I feel the most the Italian police might be able to do is to try to encourage the suspect to hand over the property to them, and then make suitable arrangements for its return to you.”
A Kent police spokesperson refused to comment because the suspect had not been charged with an offence.
Port of Dover police failed to respond to repeated requests for a comment.
Read more: All the latest news from Dover