A car parts thief who targeted high-end 4x4s in two counties and was nabbed by a police dog called Lorrie has been jailed.

Swindon Crown Court yesterday heard Liam Parter was on bail for raiding a Land Rover dealership in Wiltshire when he was spotted swiping a £600 tow bar from a white Land Rover parked up outside the Bluewater shopping centre in Kent.

When police stopped him 30 miles away in Tunbridge Wells they found a further six tow bars in his Ford Mondeo along with the tools of his trade.

Jailing the 23-year-old for 17 months, Judge Peter Crabtree said of the Wiltshire heist: “It is clear this was well-planned theft of expensive car parts where two of you travelled a considerable distance across the country.”

Prosecutor Tom Acworth had earlier told the court police were called late on July 9 to reports of a man in the compound behind the Dick Lovett Jaguar Land Rover dealership in Melksham in May.

CCTV showed a balaclava-clad thief, who it later emerged was Parter’s partner in crime Ian Lawson, taking parts from 4x4s parked up in the compound. The man was caught on camera fishing around beneath the bonnet of one vehicle. Five vehicles were targeted, doing more than £7,300-worth of damage

When officers arrived they spotted 41-year-old Lawson standing on top of a white vehicle trying to hop back over the perimeter fence.

Both men were later caught, with Parter arrested thanks to a police dog called Lorrie. Police found balaclavas, car parts, tools and a Mini hired in Lawson’s name.

At an earlier hearing it emerged the men had been offered money to carry out the theft by someone they met in a pub. They had travelled down to Wiltshire from their native Kent the night before to case the joint.

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald:

Ian Lawson's custody shot Picture: WILTSHIRE POLICE

Barely a month later and while on bail for the Wiltshire matters he was seen acting suspiciously at a car park for the Bluewater shopping centre in Dartford on August 22.

A shopper returning to his car decided to watch Parter, who was behind the wheel of a Ford Mondeo, as he circled the car park stopping beside a white Land Rover.

The thief got a Sainsbury’s bag from his car and went to the back of the expensive 4x4 in order to remove the towbar, worth around £600.

Police found Parter around 30 miles away in Tunbridge Wells. Inside the car was the stolen towbar along with six other similar parts, screwdrivers, gloves and a hammer.

Checks showed the man did not have a driving licence and was therefore uninsured to drive the Mondeo.

Parter, of Watling Place, Sittingbourne, admitted theft, going equipped, driving without a licence and no insurance.

Andrew Stone, defending, said his client was immature but had his sights set on the future. He had a partner and two children and, before being remanded in custody, was doing a course to enable him to work on the railways. He had hopes of completing the course.

“What Mr Parter wants to do with his life now is pull his socks up, earn a legitimate income and look after his family,” he said.

Co-defendant Lawson, Parter’s mother’s boyfriend, was jailed for 19 months in August.