THEY have left a trail of angry people choking on their exhaust fumes.
Now, the Olive Press has finally traced the Petrol Thieves back to their mountain lair in Rute.
Since moving to the Cordoba town 18 months ago, it is estimated that they have ripped off hundreds of British and Spanish residents with their well-worn petrol scam, as reported in the Olive Press over recent issues.
Already known to the local Guardia Civil, it will be no surprise to learn that when we finally tracked Richard Barrett and Karen Henderson down they had already “done a bunk” – apparently – without paying the rent.
“It was a classic midnight flit”, according to neighbour Jesus Guerrero, who lived opposite the pair in the Calle Sagasta area of Rute.
“They bundled everything into the back of their car, including Lala the dog, and were out of here in an hour.”
Living opposite the pair for nearly six months, pensioner Guerrero got to know the south London pair well.
“They were always up to no good,” he explained. “They ripped off dozens of people around the town and were always trying to sell old bits of furniture and DVDs. God knows where they got them from.
“They even tried the petrol trick on me a couple of times and were always up late drinking and getting into rows.
“I wasn’t surprised when the owner of the house told me they had left without paying the rent. I say good riddance.”
Their whereabouts is currently unknown, but police at the Guardia Civil barracks in Rute confirmed they were investigating the pair.
‘They were always trying to sell old bits of furniture and dodgy DVDs’
An expediente on the couple has been filed, but while police are unable to divulge its contents, said it partly involved an attack on Karen by Richard.
“He has been abusing her for some time, but it is a private matter,” he said.
Three witnesses confirmed to the Olive Press that they had seen Barrett attack his blonde girlfriend.
The tall, athletic mixed race man, who speaks with a cockney accent and works part time as a builder, was described as “very controlling” of her.
“I saw a whole group of policemen around him a few months ago,” said one bar owner from Iznajar. “He was always smacking her around and has been apprehended a few times. She was a trembling, nervous wreck.”
At the local expatriates pub Bar Jardin, owner Domingo said he had barred the pair after cuntless complaints.
He said: “They were always scrounging tobacco, but their favourite trick was to sidle up to other expatriates and order drinks, then come in and tell me the drinks were on their friends. They upset a lot of clients.”
One English couple, who run a B&B near the town, said: “They were always trying it on. Every time we saw them we knew we were going to get hit for a couple of bob.
“One expatriate even agreed to pay for a fictitious flight back to London.”
The couple had first arrived in Spain 18 months ago, initially renting a house off an English couple in El Higueral, near Iznajar. Frequently using the local bars, they had soon started their celebrated petrol scam.
“He has ripped off all the bars around here and conned half the people I know,” said one bar owner.
Estate agent Karen Woodley from Iznajar said: “I was out with six girlfriends the other night and no less than four of us have been done by them. Two of us paid them for petrol, another two for the DVDs. They are amazing. They have conned so many people here. I hope they are soon caught.”
Richard is described as being tall and thin, about 6ft tall with grey, slightly receding hair. He wears sunglasses. Karen is tall and attractive with blonde hair. The Olive Press tried to get hold of the pair on two mobile numbers given to us by acquaintances, but both remained unanswered.