Motorists should now pull over for unmarked police cars after Essex Police originally urged drivers not to stop following the theft of two vans.
Police say van drivers should still remain vigilant however, following the two robberies on the M11 on Saturday, July 23, and on the M25 on Monday, July 25.
In the first incident, a white Mercedes Sprinter van was stolen between junctions seven and eight on the M11 at Hatfield Heath after four men in a silver Ford Mondeo stopped it purporting to be police officers. One of these men was armed with a firearm. This Mondeo was registration LO62 FOU and the stolen Mercedes van KR60 NHZ. The two occupants of this van were left at the side of the road unharmed.
The second theft occured between junctions 28 and 27 on the anti-clockwise M25, and again involved a silver Ford Mondeo equipped with blue flashing lights which requested a grey Volkswagen Transporter van to pull over.
Three male occupants purporting to be police officers made the driver get out of the vehicle. No weapons were seen but one of the men had handcuffs.
Two of the men then got in to the van and both vehicles drove off. The driver did not get the index number of the Mondeo. The stolen vehicle was registration RE16 UCV.
DCI Stuart Smith of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate (SCD) and lead investigator for the incidents, said: “My team of detectives have reviewed the circumstances of both incidents and alongside the intelligence have concluded the risk to motorists in cars is low.
“That does not mean that the only risk is to van drivers, but the only vehicles which have so far been stolen are vans.
“My advice to drivers of vans in particular is to remain alert and vigilant and try and establish whether unmarked vehicles are genuine with our control room whilst remaining compliant with the police vehicle before stopping if you are concerned.
Essex Police had stopped using unmarked police vehicles in the wake of the robberies, but they returned to the road last week.
Smith continued: “Since the two motorway incidents there have been no further reports of vehicle robberies in the county prompting us to review this matter.”
In respect of calling 999 while driving Chief Insp Nick Lee, head of roads policing, said: “The law states that you cannot use your mobile phone whilst driving, however, we have discretion we can apply and if someone is in genuine fear of their life we would take a sensible approach in those circumstances.”
Investigations in to both robberies is continuing any anyone with information is asked to contact detectives at the SCD on 101 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.