A Land Rover which was stolen in Uttlesford was spotted by a police officer while out on patrol, who then went on to recover four more stolen vehicles.

PC Matt Harkness, of Essex Police's rural engagement team, was in Meadow Lane, Wickford on Sunday, November 20 when he saw the white roof of a Land Rover defender.

He said: "I knew a similar vehicle had been stolen four days earlier from a village in Uttlesford so I took a closer look and made some checks.

"They revealed that it was indeed the stolen vehicle, which had been partially disguised with cloned number plates.

 "As a result of my inquiries, we have located another three stolen vehicles, too."

All four vehicles have been forensically examined, and police enquiries are continuing.

Matt said that the owners of the Land Rover Defender were particularly thankful to have their vehicle returned.

He said: "The owners were extremely grateful and relieved as the vehicle was of great sentimental value to them – all their children learnt to drive in it.

"We take all reports of stolen vehicles seriously as we know just how much distress and inconvenience such thefts cause to the owners, particularly in rural communities, which can be isolated and without public transport links.

"And of course, the loss of any vehicle will often leave its owner without a means of getting to work or performing vital tasks.

"But we can’t do it without your help so please, if you see anything suspicious or have information about a crime or criminal activity, please report it to us."

Anyone who experiences or who has information about crime or anti-social behaviour, should ring 999 if it’s an emergency or a crime in progress.

Otherwise you can report it online where you can also provide information directly to an online Live Chat operator between 10am and 9pm. Alternatively, you can ring 101.

You can also contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, online or by calling 0800 555 111.

Essex Police's rural engagement team was set up specifically to investigate crimes such as theft of agricultural vehicles and equipment, hare coursing, fly-tipping and animal cruelty.