THREE cars were stolen and two of them set alight near Castlebank Park in Lanark, with one of the vehicles being completely burned out.
The incident appears to have run from Forth through Lanark in the early hours of Saturday morning.
A police helicopter was called in, circling the park and surrounding woodlands later in the morning as the search for those responsible continued.
Inspector Scott Jones, of Lanark Police, told the Gazette: “Around 3.50am on Saturday five people – four men and a woman all aged in their 20s – were arrested following a house party in Manse Road, Forth.
“A number of other people made off prior to our officers’ arrival and it is possible that the thefts of the cars are related to this party.
“It is not confirmed but it’s one line of enquiry.”
A Land Rover was stolen from Main Street, Forth, and was found shortly afterwards, damaged in a field at Longdales.
A blue Audi 53 was stolen from Lea Rig in Forth and around 5.30am was found badly fire damaged in St Patrick’s Road, at the entrance to Castlebank Park.
Around the same time as the Audi was found, a Ford Focus was stolen from a house in St Patrick’s Road. It was abandoned further down St Patrick’s Road.
In past decades it was possible to drive down from St Patrick’s Road to Kirkfieldbank but these days the road is just a track, a dead end for vehicles and passable only by walkers or horses.
Where the road narrowed, the car was set alight and totally burned out.
Two fire engines were called out on Saturday and police taped off the Castlegate end of St Patrick’s Road on Saturday morning.
This enabled scenes of crime officers to carry out tests on the cars.
Later the force helicopter was called out; it was reportedlychecking out the Forth/Braehead area, as well as circling round the park and the woodlands leading to New Lanark or Kirkfieldbank in the search for those responsible.
As the Gazette went to press, no-one had been apprehended for the car thefts.
* Five people appeared from custody at Lanark Sheriff Court on Monday afternoon when a solicitor for one of the accused spoke of a “party that got out of hand” in Forth.
A 20-year-old from Overtown admitted shouting and swearing and acting in a disorderly manner towards police officers and was ordered to carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.
Four other people denied a similar charge.
A 20-year-old Harthill man denied throwing a piece of concrete at the passenger window of a police car, causing it to break, and a fellow Harthill 23-year-old man denied throwing a piece of concrete at the windscreen of a police car, breaking it.
Their trial was set for December 11.