WYCOMBE Wanderers assistant boss Terry Gibson has slammed the punishment handed out to the man who stole his car calling the sentence an invitation to criminals.

The former Manchester United and Tottenham star was shocked to hear that 21-year-old Duaine South got two years probation for stealing his £26,000 BMW in April.

Londoner South was also banned from driving for 12 months by Wycombe magistrates after admitting taking the car without consent from Wanderers' training ground near Booker Air Park.

Gibson, who got his prized motor back after giving chase in a player's car and making a citizen's arrest with coach Peter Cawley, branded the punishment as weak.

He said: "It's unbelievable. I thought he would go to prison. In my world that should be the punishment for people who steal cars and commit crime.

"I don't steal things from people out of respect for them and because I don't want to end up in prison, but it seems you can steal a car get caught for it and virtually get away with it.

"It is no deterrent and if people think they can get away with it they will re-offend and they do."

Gibson has double reason to feel aggrieved. His wife Paula also had her car stolen recently from near their Epping home.

South sped off from Wycombe Wanderers training ground in the assistant manager's car while listening to his Frank Sinatra CD on April 8.

He was unaware Terry Gibson and reserve team coach Peter Cawley had given chase in a borrowed car and when they eventually caught South, who was waiting in the stolen car in a queue of traffic, they wrestled him out of the car.

Terri Starr, mitigating at Wycombe Magistrates Court on Monday, said: "There was a certain amount of duress and money lenders were involved. He is adamant he did not steal the car of his own volition."

Sentencing South, of Green Hill Road, Harlesden, to two years probation community rehabilitation order, magistrates' chairman Mike Pearce said: "You are on the cusp of a very long prison sentence but we have been persuaded to give you another chance.

"You have an appalling record and if you come back here again our patience will be sorely tried."