Mechanic disappears following police investigation into an £18,000 missing van
PUBLISHED: 17:53 13 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:25 18 February 2019
A mechanic who cost customers thousands of pounds after failing to carry out pre-paid work, changed his name, changed location, and has now disappeared - together with a customer’s £18,000 van.
Two years after Les Crofts closed his workshop in Chatteris – leaving behind angry customers trying to get their money back – he switched to Earith and changed his name legally to Leslie Lynch.
But yesterday Mr Lynch was gone from Earith Business Park where he had traded as Earith Car and Commercials and all that remained were his landlords tidying up to re-let the premises.
In Leicester, however, a customer who wishes to remain anonymous has been left wondering what happened to his £18,000 van he brought for Lynch to convert and where is the £2,000 deposit he handed over?
“It is England, it is the 21st century, but it feels like the nineties in Russia, where people could commit such crimes without any punishment,” he said.
Cambs Police were contacted by the disgruntled van owner but dropped it, telling him it was a civil matter and out of their hands.
A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire Police said: “We were contacted on January 22 with reports of the theft of a Vauxhall Movano in Meadow Drove, Earith.
“Last year the victim paid for work to be done on the van and this had not been completed or the vehicle returned.
“Officers investigated the matter, but concluded it was a civil rather than a criminal matter.”
Formerly known as Les Crofts, he ran Top Notch Leisure in Chatteris until 2017 when we ran a series of articles on customers who were stung by him.
He changed his name and moved to Earith Business Park.
The man, who like many of his customers, found Lynch on eBay and trusted him to convert his 2015 white Vauxhall Movano panel van into a flat bed delivery truck said: “I paid a £2,000 deposit with a further £1,500 to be paid on completion of works.
“This was over a year ago, He promised to finish the work in three months. After three months he said that a couple more weeks was required.
“He kept repeating this to me for a year, so in January 2019 I called police to report a crime case.
“After such a long time waiting I don’t have my van. Nobody knows where it is.
“I explained the situation, but after investigation police said there is no crime and they closed the case.”
The man is still paying a loan for his van and has had to borrow money from a friend to continue running his recovery vehicle business.
The father of two said: “I am trying to run my business. I’m a family man with two young children and I’m out of pocket by £20,000 but nobody seems able to do anything.”
A spokesman for agents Barker Storey Matthews, who oversee the Earith Business Park units, confirmed that Leslie’s workshop at unit 20 was empty and they were looking for new tenants.
• Previous victims of Les Crofts, also known as Leslie Lynch, are a disabled couple who lost £9,000 for a camper van conversion and another whose truck had blu-tac stuck over an outlet pipe damaged by his poor mechanic skills.
• The missing van is registration BV65 MTZ.
* A family friend of Lynch/Croft admitted he had changed his name “to stay out of the limelight”.
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