Premier League stars' cars recovered by police after being stolen

Two Premier League stars have been reunited with their cars after they were found among a haul of stolen vehicles and parts worth more than £16m.

A Ferrari and Range Rover, which belong to the unnamed players who have more than 100 international caps between them, were discovered in shipping containers due to be transported to Dubai from London Gateway Port in Thurrock, Essex.

More than 515 vehicles or parts were recovered by Essex Police's stolen vehicle intelligence unit (SVIU), with officers believing the thieves were hoping to get up to three times their UK value when shipped off overseas.

One of the players went to collect his vehicle from SVIU's base, with PC Phil Pentelow saying: "He was genuinely thankful and taken aback by the lengths we had gone to.

"His car was clearly very dear to him, and he was very impressed with the service he'd had from the police.

"Even though he plays for one of my team's biggest rivals, he was a nice guy and down to earth. It was good to help him."

Officers warned thieves could try to move stolen vehicles quickly, even if they fetch under market value, strip them for parts or ship them abroad.

Documents are often forged and identities are cloned to sell cars on to unsuspecting buyers in the UK, they added.

PC Paul Gerrish said: "Every stolen car is important to us and we work as hard as we can to get them back to their owners.

"When you phone someone up and tell them we've got their car with their kids' car seats and the pushchair in the back, or other personal items, it's hugely satisfying.

"We are creating a hostile environment for car thieves. We know what to look for, and we know how and where they operate."

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Some vehicle manufacturers, such as Ford and BMW, have helped the unit to improve security, with PC Pentelow urging drivers to fully lock their cars.

Drivers should use a steering wheel lock and look up the vulnerabilities of their cars, police added.