A tracker device on a stolen Mercedes-Benz led to the discovery of a 'chop shop' containing 14 looted cars worth around £600,000.

Alpesh Patel was reunited with his £55,000 car in just five hours after the criminals were not able to find the device that led to the gang's exposure.

Police arrested two men who appeared to be making plans to sell the cars abroad via the shipping ports in Essex.

Officers from the Essex Police Stolen Vehicle Intelligence Unit and the county's Road Crime team discovered the chop shop in Romford.

They had discovered the criminals had installed industrial GPS jammers in the car and had exploited many of the cars' keyless entry system to carry out the thefts.

Mr Patel said: "Of course when I left the house for work, I was very confused as I knew I had parked the car on my driveway the night before.

"After getting over the initial shock it was gone, I checked my neighbour’s CCTV, and it confirmed that my car was stolen at 2am in just a few minutes by thieves exploiting my car’s keyless entry system.

"Thankfully, when I purchased the car, it already had a Tracker unit fitted, to which I had subscribed, so I immediately contacted Tracker who in turn, alerted the police. I was amazed my car was found so quickly.

"I was so relieved to have it returned without any damage, as I use my car to commute to work so it would have been very inconvenient had it been found stripped of parts or not found at all.”

Clive Wain, Head of Police Liaison at Tracker, said:“Once the Tracker device was activated, the Police were able to quickly locate the stolen car.

"On arrival, the team found a total of 14 cars in the Romford, Essex, workshop, all in various stages of stripping for parts.

"Police forces across the country are fighting an increase in ‘chop shops’ – where stolen vehicles are stripped down and valuable parts sold on either here in the UK or abroad.

"Stealing cars is a very lucrative business which is why organised criminal gangs are so active, particularly in Essex where they have easy access to shipping ports.”

Mr Wain added: “Keyless entry cars, which enable the owner to unlock their vehicle with a fob in their pocket, on their person or from the comfort of their home, are rising in popularity and availability.

"But so too are the skills of criminals, who employ technology designed to intercept the fob’s signals.

"Owners need to take steps to protect not just their vehicle but also their key fob, to help reduce the likelihood of becoming the next victim."

More than £4.2 million-worth of stolen vehicles in total were recovered by Tracker during January to June this year.

By the end of June, the volume of theft activity had increased by over 32 per cent compared to the end of January. 92 per cent off all cars recovered were stolen as a result of keyless compromise.