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Dash cam captures moment man steals handbag from Kent couple's car in distraction theft

By Eleanor Perkins

Dashcam footage helped a Kent couple prove a stranger had stolen their personal belongings while changing their car tyre on the roadside abroad.

Paul and Sue Le Chevalier were 10 days into a month's roadtrip around France and Spain when a local man pulled up on the side of the road to offer his assistance.

But the cap-wearing Spaniard was not the good Samaritan he seemed but in fact a criminal working as a distraction while his friend rummaged through their Mercedes.

He stole a number of valuable items including a handbag containing passports, cash and banks cards plus an iPod, camera and mobile phone.

The Walmer parish councillors reported the January 2017 incident to police 40 miles away in Valencia but had heard nothing more.

That was until they received a summons by post from a judge ordering them to attend the Court of Castillon on Monday, with just seven days notice.

They attended taking a copy of their dash cam footage which had originally been given to police but since lost.

Paul and Sue Le Chevalier were able to prove the theft with their dash cam footage
Paul and Sue Le Chevalier were able to prove the theft with their dash cam footage

The footage was shown to the prosecution and judge from the couple's tablet, prompting Abdel Kader Belkaid in the dock to change his plea.

He was handed a six month prison sentence, to the delight of the couple.

But while the incident hasn't stopped them exploring the European country it has affected their behaviours while abroad.

They would now like to warm others to be vigilant and highlight the importance of dash cams.

A Spanish man pulled over offering to help the couple
A Spanish man pulled over offering to help the couple

Cllr Le Chevalier, 52, a former custody sergeant for Kent Police who lives in Kingsdown, said: "We were pleased [with the six months sentence] as what they had done had been very well rehearsed.

"We'd stopped at the service station, parked up like you do in Britain and both gone in.

"We think they spiked the rear tyre and then followed us out of the area.

"It was only about three miles or so down the road when the rear tyre went bang. Luckily Paul, as a retired Kent Police traffic officer, is an experienced driver.

"He pulled over and we got out.

The shredded tyre which the couple say was 'spiked' at a service station
The shredded tyre which the couple say was 'spiked' at a service station

"We've got about a month's worth of stuff in the boot so we were getting it all out to get to the spare tyre.

"We're doing that when a local Spanish car pulls up.

"A man gets out and put the tail gate up and comes to talk to us.

"He's waving his arms around and says he doesn't speak much English. Paul goes to the back of the car and he takes my arm and we stand with him.

"What we don't realise is there's a second man who nips out of the car."

Abdel Kader Belkaid is captured sneaking out of the car
Abdel Kader Belkaid is captured sneaking out of the car

The couple were en route to Valencia from Barcelona via the AP7 when it happened.

It was only when they got back into the car and were driving away that they realised Cllr Le Chevalier's handbag was missing.

They returned to the hard shoulder were they had stopped to check it wasn't on the side of the road. They then figured what had happened.

Cllr Le Chevalier said: "Straight away we thought we've got the dash cam.

"We played it at the police station and couldn't believe our luck."

Belkaid crouches down as he sneaks back into the vehicle with the stolen items
Belkaid crouches down as he sneaks back into the vehicle with the stolen items

More than two years later on Monday April 1, having had no correspondence with Spanish police, they receive an official letter requesting their attendance in court.

The couple took advice from friends who said if they didn't attend, they could be fined or a warrant issued.

They flew out on Sunday night to attend the Monday morning hearing.

Cllr Le Chavalier said: "It was really funny. The defendant stood up and said it wasn't him, they then played the video and he changed his plea to guilty.

"It wouldn't have happened without the dash cam footage.

"He could have got away with it."

Belkaid gets back into the car carrying Sue Le Chevalier's handbag
Belkaid gets back into the car carrying Sue Le Chevalier's handbag

The couple were able to get obtain a crime reference number which enabled them to inform the British Empire about the incident, enabling them to continue with their holiday without passports.

Cllr Le Chavalier said: "Even though we lost things it could have been a lot worse.

"We could have shot across the road and not been here to tell the story.

"It hasn't stopped us going to Spain but we don't leave the car in the service station any more.

Cllr Sue Le Chevalier is chairman of Walmer Parish Council
Cllr Sue Le Chevalier is chairman of Walmer Parish Council

"We go in one at a time or we go into the small petrol stations.

She added: "I would say that people need to be aware that people are out there doing this and don't leave the car unattended."

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