Police are calling on the public to remain vigilant following a spate of van thefts across London and parts of Essex.

Thieves are targeting Mercedes Sprinter vans and since January 1, 234 have been stolen across Redbridge, Waltham Forest, Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Newham. 

Police in Redbridge are aware of 82 Sprinter van thefts across the borough and say thieves are using sophisticated tactics to steal the vehicles. 

They have recovered a number of electrical gadgets which they believe are used by the thieves to override the immobiliser.

Another tactic used by thieves is after the van has been stolen, they are parking it a  few streets away and leaving it for 24 hours to check whether it is being tracked by police. 

Detective Chief Inspector Neil Lemon of Redbridge Police said: "Intelligence suggests these vans are taken to a depot or remote area and are dismantled.

"The parts are then shipped on containers and sold on to eastern European countries."

No arrests have been made so far.

Police are urging anyone who sees a Sprinter van parked somewhere unusual to contact them on 101.