A CROOK desperate to escape police crashed a stolen car into a tree before fleeing into a ravine in a botched burglary.

Lewis Thomas was caught hiding under a bridge after police spotted him driving a stolen Audi in Rainham.

The 22-year-old made off and a pursuit ensued where he sped up to 70mph, mounting the central reservation and travelling on the wrong side of the carriageway.

The car eventually collided with a tree and Thomas made off on foot along a ravine.

The officers attempted to chase Thomas and the police helicopter, National Police Air Service, guided the officers on the ground to where he was taking shelter under a bridge.

Thomas, of Milner Road, Dagenham, admitted a string of offences including two residential burglaries in Rainham, dangerous driving and aggravated taking and driving away after the chase on January 20.

Searches by three officers at two different addresses revealed further items including clothing and the victim’s ID documents stolen during the same burglary and also property from another residential burglary.

This provided a conclusive link between the suspect and the two burglaries.

Thomas was jailed for four years and also banned from driving for the same amount of time.

Insp Taz Ghani, of the Met Police's Road Traffic and Policing Command at Chadwell Heath, said: “I and my officers know the horrible impact burglary has on victims. It is an awful crime where offenders invade homes, which are meant to be the place where we feel safe. It is no wonder people feel violated and distressed when it happens.

“Those officers from the Met’s Road Traffic and Policing Command, and colleagues from NPAS, were determined to track down Thomas that day and bring this prolific offender to justice.

"Their diligent actions mean that Thomas, who is a prolific burglar, will now be punished for his actions and will hopefully mean fewer victims of burglary.”