A WOMAN has been left without a car after her £16,000 Ford Galaxy was stolen just two minutes after she took it to a car wash.

The 60-year-old from Wickford, who did not want to be named took her car to the B&I hand car wash in Market Road, Wickford, where she is a regular.

She says she gave her keys to one of the employees, who was washing a vehicle in front, as she popped into the nearby Wickford Community Association centre, next door.

But, two minutes after leaving her car, the woman was approached by the owner of the car wash to say her car had gone.

She said: “He asked me if I had moved my car and I said ‘no, your staff have got the keys’ and he said that in that case my car must have been stolen, as he saw it being driven off at speed.”

The woman asked staff at the community centre to see if the theft had been caught on CCTV.

When they played their footage it revealed a man watching the woman at 10.39am before getting into her car at 10.41am and speeding off. She said: “Everything is on CCTV, you can see someone crouching down by the car. And it shows the man who took the car literally passing me as I walked into the community centre.”

The woman is now urging other motorists to be on their guard and not to leave vehicles while they are being cleaned at hand car washes.

Jani Agba, site manager of the B&I car wash, said he was upset his customer’s car was stolen, but insisted the woman had left her keys in the ignition and not given them to a member of staff.

He said: “We have CCTV cameras covering the areas where the cars are washed, but it didn’t cover the area where this lady’s car was.

“When the cars are washed we keep the keys in a secure box in the office and there’s not really much more we can do.”

Police said they are continuing to investigate the theft, which happened at 10.40am on Friday February 3.

Insp Simon Gray, of the Basildon area investigation team, said: “This car was stolen in broad daylight in a very busy area.

“We are currently conducting enquiries around the CCTV, but in the meantime we want to hear from anyone that was in the immediate area that may have seen the car driven off at speed.”

Anyone with information can call police at Basildon on 101.