Hunt for asonists

Donna Crooks' burnt out van
Donna Crooks' burnt out van

TWO car enthusiasts have offered a £1,000 reward to find arsonists who wrecked their customised vehicle.

Donna Crooks and her partner Richard Jolley were forced to flee their home with their four children after two men torched two of their cars left parked on their driveway in Ridyard Street, Worsley Hall.

A terrified neighbour helped them evacuate the property after he returned home and found both cars were blazing.

One of the cars was a VW Golf ‘run-around,’ but the other was a customised Vauxhall Astra van which the pair had spent months and thousands of pounds modifying.

The couple are particularly concerned about the blaze because they had converted the Astra to run on Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) and fear that the fire could have caused a potentially devastating - and even deadly - explosion.

Fortunately, firefighters were quickly on the scene to extinguish the inferno before fuel tanks had time to explode.

However, both vehicles were completely burned out.

A CCTV system shows two men aged 18 and 20 pouring a liquid over the cars and then igniting it with a cigarette lighter before fleeing.

The couple know of no reason for the arsonists to target them. But they are refusing to be cowed by the incident and have already started on the process of securing another van to modify.

They are offering £1,000 for information leading to the successful conviction of the arsonists.

Anybody with information is asked to contact Wigan Police on 0161 856 5307.

Gas engineer Ms Crooks, 31, said: “A neighbour came running across in the early hours to tell us our cars were on fire because we were all asleep. My van was gas converted which makes it even more worrying when you think of that going up.

“The Astra had sentimental as well as financial value to us. It’s had a lot of our time and money spent on it.

”On the CCTV you can see two lads walk past the front of the drive with one carrying a drum of liquid and the next thing they are splashing it all over the front of the VW and then the Astra van.

“He runs off and the other lad takes a lighter from his pocket and sets the fuel going and basically it just blows up in his face so he must have a singed face and hair at the least.

“But at the end of the day the van and the car are just materials and can be replaced but the kids can’t so we are really concerned about this happening and catching the people who did it.”

One suspect was dressed in black with a hood and the other wore grey track suit bottoms with a black hoodie.