A martial arts expert has revealed how he channelled his inner Liam Neeson after hunting down his pregnant wife’s stolen car.
Imran Farooq, 33, spent two-and-a-half days chasing tips, speeding down roads before eventually performing a citizen’s arrest – on a man with a baseball bat.
He set about his movie-style chase after his wife Rachel, 32, realised her handbag containing her keys was missing – as was her car.
The dad-of-three took to local Facebook groups asking for sightings wife Rachel’s Volkswagen Polo – which also contained their only copy of a 12-week ultrascound scan.
Within an hour Imran was flooded with hundreds of messages from neighbours, informing him they had seen the car being driven around Coundon, Coventry, West Mids.
He passed on the information to the police but was adamant to track down the man himself — echoing Bryon Mills, played by Liam Neeson, in the film Taken.
After a two-and-a-half day hunt Imran eventually found the car being driven by a man, after chasing after him and implementing key martial arts moves.
Patrick Cawley, 37, was handed a 12-month sentence for dangerous driving, driving with no insurance and driving without a licence on October 23 at Warwick Crown Court.
He was not convicted of burglary or theft in relation to the incident.
In a separate incident, not related to Imran, he was convicted of attempted burglary, and received an 18 month jail sentence, to run consecutively.
Imran, who runs a martial arts gym, said: “I don’t mean to big myself up but I am a hero.
“I’m pretty certain if I didn’t catch this dirty little rat he would have seriously injured someone or even killed someone.
“I would just liken it to Liam Neeson in Taken.
“It’s like that line “I will look for you, I will find you and I will kill you.
“Obviously I wasn’t going to kill him because why would I want to incriminate myself?
“But I really set about getting justice.”
Imran and his three-month pregnant wife had moved into their new home in Coundon, Coventry, last December and had spent the month decorating.
On 22 December the couple left a window open to let the paint dry in their living room.
But the next morning, they realised Rachel’s handbag, containing her car keys, was missing, along with her car.
They called the police and claim they were told there wasn’t much they could do, suggesting they reach out to the wider community on social media.
Imran, who runs a martial arts gym, said: “It happened a couple of days before Christmas last year. Me and Rachel were decorating the house and had left the window open to let the paint dry.
“We were chilling in the next room just watching TV.
“She didn’t notice until the next day. I was at work and had my phone on the side and when I picked it up I saw 27 missed calls.
“She realised her handbag had disappeared and the car had gone from outside.
“We phoned the police and they said that sometimes thieves leave stolen cars in the area in case there’s a tracker.
“I put a post on the local Facebook groups just to see on the off chance if someone had come across it and within minutes I had people messaging me saying they almost got knocked over by it.
“Apparently the car was mounting the pavements.
“That’s when I decided I was going to catch it. I was furious.
“There was a lot of sentimental things in there including our only copy of the 12-week scan of our daughter.
“Rachel was pregnant at the time and had already been signed off work for stress so we were really worried about losing our baby girl.
“Word got around and I had friends phoning me telling me they had seen it.
“Everything I was told I was feeding back to 101. The police were actually after him at the same time for driving the car recklessly so we were all on the road hunting for this guy.
“I drove over to the area and saw it. I thought ‘that’s my freaking wife’s car, I’m going to get you’.
“We were facing each other and I thought ‘this is my chance’.
“It was a narrow road and once our cars were next to each other I went to look at him.
“The driver seat window was down and I thought ‘I could just jump out and get him’. But there must have been something in my eyes to give it away.
“He noticed and without looking or anything just reversed the car as fast as he could onto a main road.
“I followed him but lost him.”
Imran later spotted the driver again, but says the man was driving so recklessly he decided not to try to keep up.
Imran said: “I wanted to catch him for sure but at the same time I’m human and don’t want to die.
“I kept following up leads and would drive to where he was, chase him for a bit but he would always get away.
It was like God was giving me a chance to catch him and I had screwed it up.
“Then the next day my friend who owned the local takeaway and said he had just seen a guy get into the car on his CCTV.
“I flew straight there but lost him.
“Then something clicked. I thought I’m never going to see him if I’m one step behind.
“I made a mental triangle of his regular haunts going off the tips my friends and neighbours had said.
“There were two main roads he kept popping up at.
“So I parked up and waited.
“Rachel was calling me telling me to just stop as it’s not worth it. But I was determined.
“I had been there hours and was absolutely shattered but then I heard this ‘vooom’.
“He had driven past me.
“Every other time I had chased him down roads, they had been straight so he was able to get away.
“Where I had parked this time was just before a bend.
“So he clocked my car, sped down the road and then the car flipped over on its side.”
Imran went to check on the driver but claims a man climbed out of the car with a baseball bat before running off.
Chasing after him, the dad-of-three was able to carrying out his martial arts training in order to restrain a man until police arrived.
He said: “I went to see if he was alright but then the dirty little rat crawled out of the window and started coming at me with a baseball bat.
“He ran off but luckily I’m well trained so I got him.
“He was trying to spit and bite me like a dirty little rat.
“I grabbed him, sweeped him under his feet to get him to the floor then turned him round on his front.
“Obviously I teach that stuff so it’s second nature. So you have that mixed with me wanting to get justice for my family and the community and the fact he kept slipping through my fingers before.
“I’m a big guy and can handle myself which is fortunate.
“I had him pinned down and told passerbys to call the police.
“My adrenaline was through the roof.
“I was so happy. I was buzzing.
“I’m not a vigilante. I was phoning up the police with every bit of information I had.
“They were looking for him because of the reckless driving and I had my own reasons. There were loads of police on the streets. We were working together as a team.
“Unfortunately the car is written off now and none of our possessions were in there.
“But I feel like I did something good.”