The suspected thieves drove into the Pollsmoor Prison grounds in Tokai. File picture: Tracey Adams / African News Agency.

Cape Town - This is poetic justice at its very best! Suspected car thieves fleeing the cops got an unexpected surprise after they drove straight into the grounds of a notorious maximum-security prison.

A police patrol spotted the car on Sunday as it was being driven in the Tokai suburb of Cape Town after having been reported stolen from the affluent area of Hout Bay.

As police gave chase the four "fled into Pollsmoor prison", city police spokesman Wayne Dyason said.

The suspects - whom the media have dubbed the country's "dumbest criminals" - were arrested in the prison grounds.

According to a prison official, the men accessed the complex through an entrance that leads to the wardens' residential area, and then abandoned the car before heading off on foot.

"They entered through the gate where the officers live, and that is where they were caught," Correctional Services spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo told AFP.

Pollsmoor Maximum Security Prison holds some of the country's most notorious criminals and gangs, although it has yet to be determined where the aforementioned car thieves would be held.

Agence France-Presse