Hospice staff were left disgusted after their van was stolen.
St Clare Hospice in Hastingwood was targeted by thieves last night who took the Bedford van which is emblazoned with the St Clare logo.
Staff were "dismayed" to find when they arrived this morning that the van had disappeared.
CCTV footage revealed the vehicle had been driven out the Hospice gates towards the M11 interchange shortly after 11pm last night.
Social media reports say that the van was spotted in Nazeing later on.
Thankfully, it was located by police.
The van, which is in use six days a week, makes about 10 trips a day, delivering and collecting furniture and other goods which are bought and sold in seven Hospice shops.
Chief executive Tanya Curry said that she was "gutted" when she heard the news.
She said: “We are delighted that the van has been recovered but as a local charity, we are gutted that anyone would target the Hospice, especially to come onto the St Clare site under the cover of darkness to steal our van.
“Our van drivers provide a first-class service and without it, it would not be possible to collect the unwanted furniture and other items that the public kindly donate to us to sell in our shops.
“The cost to the Hospice of the van being off the road is about £1,000 a day, money which could be spent on caring for our patients, so we are extremely keen to get the van back as soon as possible once the police have finished their investigations.
"We just hope the culprits are caught and made to understand the impact their actions have had on our charity.”
Anyone with information about the theft is asked to contact Essex Police on the non-emergency number, 101. Please quote crime reference CF0153600214.