A CALAMITOUS cop left the keys in a crashed car...which was then stolen.

Despite promising to look after the keys for the owners, after a hit-and-run crash left them requiring hospital treatment, the police officer instead abandoned the keys and the car.

When the couple returned, the car had been taken.

Anna Rankin said she was “livid” about the crash, the theft and the incompetence of the officer.

She said: “We have found out why our car got stolen while we were in hospital.

“Police have confirmed they thought somebody was going to come and recover our vehicle, so left the car unlocked and the key in the pocket on the driver’s side.

“This is incompetence at its finest, I’m absolutely livid.

“We’ve been through so much and it was completely avoidable.”

Anna, 24, had been suffering severe back pain on Boxing Day and was being driven to Southend Hospital by partner Ben Hamilton.

While travelling along Ruskin Avenue, another car hit them forcing them into a parked car.

The couple were taken to hospital and left the keys with an officer, who they claim told them they would drop them through Ben’s mother’s letterbox nearby.

The couple were treated at hospital and returned to the car the next day confused as to where the keys had gone.

By now the car had gone also. What made it even worse was it contained their Christmas presents and tools used by Mr Hamilton.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “We would like to apologise to the victim following the theft of their vehicle in Ruskin Avenue, Southend, on Sunday December 27.

"We are investigating the circumstances surrounding its disappearance and we are trying to locate it."

Anyone with information about this incident should call Southend police station on 101 quoting 42/189648/18.

Anyone with information about the hit-and-run crash the previous day call quoting reference 537 of 26/12.

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.