One day a chap stole a van that had been parked in Greenways in Ovingdean Village. Unbeknown to the thief, the local policeman used to live at the bottom of Beacon Hill – there were two police houses there – the cottages on the coast side. The policeman used to drive around on a little moped. The thief saw the policeman and tried to reverse the van for a getaway, but he broke up the gates of a house and got the van jammed diagonally across the gateway. He got out of the van and was running around the garden desperately looking for a way out. But– of course, there was no way out and because the van was jammed completely across the gate, he had to climb through the van and out of the other side.
He ran away down the road and got away – he ran to the phone box at the bottom of Ainsworth Avenue but he had no money. So he had the cheek to ask the policeman for the price of a phone call – making the excuse that he had missed the bus or something. When the police eventually found the van which was jammed in the gate, they were quite concerned because there was all this blood dripping out of the door – they thought there might have been an accident and it was a dead body. Instead of which the blood was coming from the owner’s weekly meat shopping which was dripping out of the van door. As to the driver, he made a swift escape over the fields.
The thief was never caught but the story of the ‘Bloody Van’ caused much amusement when told many a time over a pint in the Village Hall.