An artist has said he was left a 'broken man' after the van containing his life's work, which was eventually recovered in Woodford Green, was stolen.

Jon Astrop thought he would never again see his work, including 70 canvasses, when he noticed his van had been stolen.

Mr Astrop had parked the van near his house in School Way, North Finchley the night before January 25.

Devastated by the realisation his work was missing, he called the police and launched a public appeal.

Mr Astrop said: "When I discovered the van had gone it was very surreal and it took a while to sink in before my brain told me to ring the police.

"Then the realisation that all my paintings had gone took over and I was absolutely devastated.

"By the end of the day I was a broken man."

A Newham police officer saw a public appeal and checked information gathered during police operations using vehicle registration number checks.

He found the van had been recorded in Woodford Green and officers were sent to the area.

It was then found in Armstrong Avenue, Woodford Green, on Sunday January 26 with the paintings still inside.

The collection of paintings worth £20,000 each have different price-tags with some in the region of £5,000.

On hearing the police had found his prized possessions, Mr Astrop said he felt elavated.

"When I heard 36 hours later that it had been found with all its contents and undamaged, it was sheer elation, obviously, and it felt like I had won the lottery.

"Then my thoughts turned to the police and the wonderful service they provide to victims of theft," added Mr Astrop.

Police are still appealing for witnesses and carrying out forensic tests on the van.

Detective Superintendent Dan Quigley said: "We are always pleased when we are able to return stolen goods to their rightful owners who have been victims of theft.

"In this case, however, we are still looking for those responsible and are hoping that the use of forensic evidence will assist us with identifying the suspects.

"I am appealing to anyone who may have witnessed the van being driven away from School Way on the evening of Friday January 24 and likewise to anyone who may have witnessed it being parked in Armstrong Avenue, Woodford Green to contact us at Barnet police on 101."