Producer says he would have ‘fed Peterborough thief to the lions’ after the crook caused children’s show to be cancelled

Darius Diminskas
Darius Diminskas

The producer of a children’s theatre show which was cancelled when a crook stole a van containing thousands of pounds worth of props, sets and costumes has said the jail sentence given to the thief ‘doesn’t feel like justice’ - and joked he should have been fed to the lions.

Darius Diminskas, 34, of Eaglesthorpe, Peterborough was sentenced to two years and four months after admitting his role in stealing the Dear Zoo van in Peterborough earlier this year.

The stolen Dear Zoo van

The stolen Dear Zoo van

The tour had a number of sold out dates in the diary, but the show had to be cancelled - which has also left six actors out of work.

After Diminskas was jailed yesterday, producer Chris Davis said: “The misery that this man and his accomplices have caused stealing our van and preventing the thousands of children from seeing the Dear Zoo Show and only getting two and half years in jail really doesn’t seem justice.

“I would have fed him to Lions.”

The Dear Zoo tour had been on the road since February, delighting thousands of youngsters across the country.

But on April 27 it was stolen from Dogsthorpe Road in Peterborough.

At the time Mr Davis said he was ‘devastated’ by the theft. He said: “There is huge sadness for the six people I have had to make redundant, and the thousands of people who had tickets to come and see the show.

“Why they took a van clearly marked up as part of a children’s theatre show I don’t know. There is nothing of value in the van for anyone else - just sets, costumes and puppets.

“We can’t get the set replaced for another six weeks, so we have had to cancel the rest of the tour.

“We do this job for the children - for many it is their first experience of the theatre.

“This week we had four sell out shows in Bromsgrove - we have had to tell all those people the show has been cancelled. It is devastating.”

After the van was stolen, it was driven towards the A1 before the tracking device was removed and it was fitted with cloned number plates.

A further two vans were taken on 8th May from New Road and Palmerston Road, Woodston. They were owned by glaziers and contained large quantities of valuable power tools.

The tracking devices were also removed and the number plates cloned.

Officers investigating the thefts linked Diminskas’ own vehicle to the incidents and discovered blank vehicle keys, number plates, a GPS tracking unit and V5 registration documents for multiple vehicles at his home.

They also found a power tool and a sack trolley belonging to the victims.

PC Craig Trevor said: “Diminskas initially denied any involvement then later claimed he had been asked to give two men a lift to the homes of the vehicles in return for a fee.

“Our investigation revealed Diminskas to be one of the key players in these sophisticated thefts moving stolen vehicles across multiple counties. Not only were the victims left without their vehicles, they also lost their valuable power tools and equipment they require to do their work. The owners of the ‘Dear Zoo’ van were forced to cancel their live tour, costing them thousands of pounds.”