A man has been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment after pleading guilty to aggravated vehicle taking and driving whilst disqualified.
Lewis Croucher, aged 26, of no fixed address, appeared before St Albans Crown Court on Tuesday, April 20.
The court heard how in the early hours of Tuesday, January 26, officers on proactive patrol spotted a car being driven erratically, without its headlights on, in Langley Way, Watford.
They signalled for the vehicle to stop but Croucher, who was behind the wheel, failed to do so before colliding with a wall further down the road.
He fled the scene and despite a thorough area search with support from the National Police Air Service and the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Dog Unit, he was not located.
The vehicle was seized and examined by officers from the Scientific Services Unit, who retrieved Croucher’s DNA. He was subsequently arrested on Thursday 18 February.
Further enquiries unearthed CCTV footage showing Croucher trying the door handle of the vehicle, which had been left unlocked.
In addition to his 12-month prison sentence, Croucher has also been disqualified from driving for a further three and a half years.
He is also now the subject of a two-year Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO), the terms of which prohibit him from entering the borough of Watford, entering the area of Bushey or entering any vehicle – or removing items from any vehicle – unless in the company of the registered owner in Hertfordshire.
Watford Chief Inspector Ian Grout said: “Vehicle crime is a priority for us in Watford and this incident showcases some excellent partnership working by the police service in order to achieve a conviction.
“As part of our work to tackle this issue, we have recently conducted several operations across the town to identify any vehicles that had been left insecure before speaking to their registered keepers to give crime prevention advice.
“We know it can be so easy to forget to check you’ve locked the car, but it’s important that we build it into part of our daily routine to prevent ourselves from becoming victims of crime.
“If you lock your vehicle using a fob please also double check it’s secure by trying the door handles and make sure all of the windows are closed. It only takes a couple of seconds to do.”