A GANG of organised car thieves look to have been foiled by The Oldham Times’ Facebook page users.

When we posted news of the theft of a £19,000 Nissan Qashqai yesterday from outside the home of Jonathan Waterhouse in St John’s Street, the social media site was inundated with messages of support and help.

From the information he received, Jonathan, aged 26, was told that many stolen cars had been abandoned in a one square-mile radius in Ashton, five miles away.

And now, Jonathan has also watched chilling footage on CCTV from nearby St John’s Garage which shows the car he bought just five days previously being loaded on to the back of a flatbed truck within two minutes.

Jonathan, an elite instructor who works in schools, said: “After The Oldham Times posted news of the car being stolen on Facebook with a picture, I was inundated with messages.

“Apparently, at least six newish vehicles have been taken in this manner from this area and abandoned in Ashton.

“I am told, they are left there for 24 hours, in case there is a tracker on them, and if no-one finds the car they are then disposed of.

“When I saw the CCTV footage of the car being taken, it was mind blowing. It took them literally two minutes at 5.40am to take the car, just 20 minutes before I walked out of my front door to go to work. They simply raised the front end of the car and pulled it on to the truck.

“After being told about the Ashton connection, I got in the courtesy car I’m using from the insurance company and drove round the area of Ashton, the Facebook people told me about.

“I found the car after driving up and down side roads for six hours in Minto Street.”

Jonathan, who works for Commando Joe’s, a team of elite instructors who go into schools to help children realise their full potential, has now got a steering wheel lock, wheel clamp, a special case for the key fob to prevent it being cloned and a vehicle tracker.

Jonathan added: “The Facebook community have been incredible. Without them I would probably have never found the car.

“But it’s worrying that there is a gang of organised car thieves operating in Oldham. I would advise anyone buying a car to take the same precautions I have now done.”