A SHOCKED couple returned home from holiday to find burglars had ransacked their home and stolen their car.

Thieves broke into their property in Southwold Crescent, Benfleet, stealing the keys to a blue Ford ST220 Mondeo. Its registration is EX03 GZP.

The crooks forced their way into the home by jemmying open the conservatory door before getting away with the vehicle, along with some jewellery.

The homeowners, who did not want to be named, had been holidaying in the Caribbean when the incident happened.

One half of the couple, a 60- year-old woman, said: “It was a real shock. We have lived here over 30 years and never had any problems. We found out the day before we were flying back.

“Somehow they managed to get in round the back and damaged some doors and just took the car and jewellery.

“Everything in the bedroom was just a mess where they had ransacked it.

“We will be putting in extra security, but it’s all in the hands of police now. You just never think it will happen to you.”

It is not the first time the quiet residential road has been targeted by burglars. A 66-year-old man from Southwold Crescent, who did not want to be named, said he was burgled in November.

He said: “I was burgled a few months ago and they smashed my patio doors with a stone windmill in my garden and took music equipment and some cash.

These people are determined so no matter what you do they will find a way to get in.

“You just have to try and not make it easy for them I suppose, don’t leave keys lying around or anything they can use to break in. It’s usually quite a quiet area round here.”

The burglary happened between 12.20am and 9.30am on Sunday, January 19.

Officers want to speak to anyone who may have seen the car, which has distinctive creamcoloured leather seats.

Anyone with information can contact Det Con Andy Copley at Southend CID on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111