Bungling car thieves stole rally ace Emma McKinstry's £40,000 Mitsubishi Lancer, then dumped it after running out of petrol just 15 miles away.

Emma, the daughter of former Irish Champion, Kenny McInstry, had to pull out of the Rallye Sunseeker at the weekend after thieves stole the car from a friend's yard near London, according to the UK press.

After the theft in the early hours of Friday morning the dozy thieves quickly ran out of fuel and were forced to hide the car in a shed on a country estate near Slough, but it was discovered next morning by a gardener.

"She was devastated at not just losing the car but having to miss the rally," Kenny McInstry said.

The thieves did manage to get away with a laptop and some other electronic equipment used to monitor the car's performance.

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