A WORRIED resident dialled 999 after spotting two men chaining a suitcase to a lamp post outside her home.

Joanne Kinsler, 35, of Carisbrooke Road, Westcliff, peered out of her window after hearing the chains rattle.

She watched as the two men then left in an unmarked black car.

A panicked Mrs Kinsler called emergency services and was rung back a short time later by an operator, who told her not to worry as the case contained traffic monitoring equipment.

Mrs Kinsler said the incident had given her quite a shock.

She said: “I opened the curtain and I had a bit of a panic. My heart was racing. I even took a picture of the car in case it was dodgy.

“I honestly rang 999 and told my little girl get away from the window.

“We are told to be vigilant and it looked suspicious.

“If a council van had turned up, I would have thought it was OK.

“How ridiculous in these times, when we are all scared anyway and looking out for bags being left anywhere, they do that.”

Mehmet Mazhar, Southend Council’s manager for traffic and highways, apologised for causing any alarm.

He said: “The council’s traffic management and road safety team is installing this equipment at various locations in the town to measure traffic volumes and speeds.

“It is cheaper for us to use our own equipment to obtain traffic data, rather than to request the work to be carried out by a specialist traffic survey company.

“We apologise for any concerns which may have unwittingly been caused to residents.”

A spokesman for Essex Police confirmed they were called just after 10am on Friday, and praised the woman’s actions.

He said: “After some enquiries, the woman was called back and informed it was a traffic management box.

“This woman did the right thing in reporting a suspicious package.

“We would urge anyone who sees a suspicious, unattended item to contact police. We would rather be told and find out it is a false alarm than not be told about something that requires our attention.”

Mrs Kinsler added: “When I did look a lot closer it did say traffic or something.

“It has got some small writing, but you can’t see that. From across the road it just looks like a suitcase. I thought ‘talk about scare people for no reason’. We have got enough to worry about.”