AN off-duty police officer has arrested a man in an Alicante shopping area car park who punctured car tyres to stage distraction thefts while owners put on a spare wheel.

The Policia Nacional officer was out shopping in the Rabasa area of the city when he spotted a man crouching between two vehicles.

The man, who has been arrested for six thefts this year, took two bags lying on a car seat which contained €1,300 of items and ran off.

The officer chased him down and returned the goods which belonged to a couple who were replacing their punctured car tyre.

A knife used by the 44-year-old man was discovered on him.

He had also used it on another vehicle in the car park but the owner had yet to return.

The thief worked with an accomplice, 47, who waited for him in a car with a running engine to enable a quick getaway.

He was later detained by the police.

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