Thieves in Malaysia stole an adult cow, squeezed it into the back seat of a car and drove off with it, but abandoned the animal when the getaway vehicle crashed into a tree, police said Thursday.

The cow, injured in the crash, was slaughtered by villagers.

The thieves managed to push the cow into the back of a mid-sized sedan Tuesday night, but were spotted by villagers who gave chase, said a local police official in the northern state of Kedah. He declined to be named, citing protocol.

The driver lost control during the chase and drove into a tree, injuring the cow, he said. By the time villagers got to the crash site, one person was seen running from the car, but police believe more people were involved in the theft, the official said.

It was not clear how they managed to push the cow into the car or whether the animal had been sedated. A blurry photograph in the New Straits Times daily showed the cow's head with closed eyes sticking out of the back seat window of the crashed car.