Crooks made off with a £20,000 BMW from a used car dealership after feigning interest in part exchanging.

It is believed three men were involved in the theft of the grey M135i Sport model at Clearwater Automotive Limited, in Rivenhall, at 3.20pm on Monday.

Two of the men came out to look at the car, while a third sat in the back of a blue Ford Focus they arrived in.

Tom Walter, director at the firm, said: “They came in a vehicle on to the site, I thought there were two of them, but I’m told there were three so one never left the car.

“The security camera shows one person sitting in the back of the car, but we never saw him.

“One asked a valet driver to use our toilet and the other saw a car in the front and asked to have a look around it.

“At this point my manager Andy took him around to show him and he asked to look under the bonnet.”

Two men were captured on CCTV and the car they drove in with had the number plate LD11 XPS.

Mr Walter said: “The car just has a button to start the car, that was done and the bonnet was up.

“The other guy came out the back entrance and he said he was interested and had the cash to buy today and wanted to part exchange.

“My colleague has gone over to the officer to get an appraisal form and the next thing he’s walking back and one of the guys is in the car and has sped off, nearly hitting him on the way.

“The insurance will cover it, that’s what we pay for, but at the end of the day someone thinks it’s ok to come and steal this car and it’s not.”

The man in the blue top is described as about 5 ft 8 ins tall with a neck tattoo and the other man as 6 ft 3 ins.

The CCTV images show people of interest who may have information which could assist the investigation.

This incident follows two in Newland Street, Witham, less than a month ago.

Two vehicles were taken from Markham & Smith and Glovers Motors, with both companies having been burgled several times this year.

Update 5pm

A spokesman for Essex Police said: "Officers are investigating reports that a grey BMW M135 car was stolen from a dealership in London Road, Rivenhall, on Monday, September 4.

"Police were told that two men made enquiries about the vehicle, and when the car was started, drove it away without permission.

"No arrests have currently been made in connection with the incident.

"Enquiries are ongoing."

Anyone with information should contact police on 101.