Police hunt taxi thief after crash left building in danger of collapse
Police are hunting a taxi passenger who stole the vehicle before it crashed into a building and left it in danger of collapsing
The A1018 Front Street, in Cleadon, has been closed since around 2am this morning and remains blocked to traffic in both directions.
Police say the road has been closed as a safety measure after the vehicle hit All Saints Church Hall.
The building has suffered extensive damage and the road will remain closed until it can be made safe.
No-one is reported to have been injured in the incident and police say the occupant of the car involved fled the scene before they arrived.
Police are asking drivers to avoid the area where possible and are appealing for witnesses
The accident has left a gaping hole in the front of the building and a safety rail between the road and pavement has been flattened.
There is a significant amount of wreckage on the pavement and road - including a damaged taxi sign.
Police say they are currently investigating the incident.
A spokeswoman said the incident happened after a passenger allegedly got into an argument with the driver and drove the vehicle off after the driver got out of the car.
Police say they are looking for a white man, five feet 10 inches tall, stockily built with a shaven head.
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He was wearing a black jacket and dark trousers.
A police spokesman said: "The church hall was hit by a vehicle at about 2am this morning and has been badly damaged.
"This was a one-vehicle accident and no-one was hurt in the incident but the building is insecure and we have closed the road subject to an inspection by structural engineers.
"The local authority have been informed and are establishing the safety of the building."
He added: "Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances of the collision and we would life to hear from any witnesses to the incident or drivers who may have dashcam footage.
"The road will remain closed while further inquiries and maintenance work is carried out.
"We thank people for their patience."
One resident told the Gazette "I was in there last night in the early hours, there was a celiidh on.
"90 people were in there. This is awful."
"It's such a a shame. It is such a lovely building."
Anyone with information is asked to ring 101, quoting reference 64 310319 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111