POLICE recovered a stash of class A drugs and a knife in a stolen car after it was spotted by an off-duty officer.

Three men were taken into custody after the vehicle was stopped by a marked police car on Monday afternoon.

The car had been stolen from a house in Southend by thieves taking advantage of its keyless operation and the officers had been attempting to trace it for several days.

In a recent trend which has seen a spike in car thefts across the country, thieves use high-tech gear which is easily available on the internet to gain entry to keyless vehicles by hijacking the signal from the keys kept in the house.

On Monday, an off-duty officer spotted the stolen red Ford car and called his team members to share the intelligence.

Once officers from the local policing team (LPT) located the vehicle, it was stopped and the car was searched.

A spokesman for the team said: “We arrested three suspects for the theft of a motor vehicle and we also found a large quantity of Class A drugs and a knife in the car.

“This is top team work from the Southend proactive team and the Southend LPT.

“We will be doing more similar work around the theft of cars in Southend.

“If you have a keyless car please keep your keys a good distance from your car or get a Faraday bag.”

Faraday bags are used to put keys in and block signals so they cannot be hijacked by the equipment used by thieves to steal the car without the key.

All three men – a 25 year-old from Southend, a 26 year-old from Shoebury, and a 32 year-old of no fixed address - have been released under investigation while the enquiries continue.

The drugs and the knife were seized by police.