A huge armed police presence supported by an aerial unit descended on Waltham Abbey only to discover a reported hostage situation was a fake.

At around 3pm yesterday a member of the public spotted a woman being pulled out of her car at gun point before the vehicle was taken.

The passerby called the police, which sent all available officers and five double crewed armed response vehicles to the area.

A police helicopter was even drafted in.

As the force's eyes in the sky hovered overhead, the heavily armed police presence shut down large parts of the town.

A spokesperson for Essex Police said: "All vehicles or persons matching the descriptions were stopped and searched by officers.

"Eventually the suspects were identified and surrounded by armed officers.

"This could have gone horribly wrong as the suspects identified themselves as a security company staging a fake kidnapping as a training scenario.


"Apologies to any of our Waltham Abbey residents that we stopped and searched yesterday but now you know why.

"To the security company, and you know who you are.

"Perhaps notify Essex Police next time or better still, train somewhere else."