Sussex Police warn of 'rogue' holiday parking firms near Gatwick Airport

Cars found in boggy field near Gatwick by Sussex Police Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Sussex Police says car keys were left in envelopes on the windscreens of the cars

More than 1,000 vehicles apparently belonging to people flying off on holiday have been found "parked" in a boggy field near Gatwick Airport.

Sussex Police says it is investigating five companies suspected of operating illegally at the site.

Officers found some car keys left in envelopes on the windscreens of the cars they belonged to - in full view of anyone passing by.

The force is urging drivers to book only with approved parking companies.

The exact location of the field is not yet being disclosed to protect customers' vehicles.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption More than 1,000 cars were found unattended

As well as keys being left on windscreens, officers also found hundreds of keys to the vehicles in the boot of a car which was left open and unlocked, while several others were covered in mud.

Sussex Police is investigating along with Horsham District Council and West Sussex County Council Trading Standards.

Sergeant Darren Taylor said: "We visited the site with the district council and trading standards with the aim of exposing and taking firm action against these unscrupulous rogue companies.

Image copyright Sussex Police
Image caption Sussex Police said five companies are being investigated

"I was disgusted but not overly surprised by the condition of the cars, because this appears to be an ongoing issue in the area.

"Some of the cars were stuck in thick mud and were unable to be towed away; let alone driven away.

"But one of the most worrying things we found was an insecure vehicle with the keys to hundreds of others left in full view in the boot.

"We were on site for about 45 minutes and not a single person was present to challenge us during that time. There was nothing stopping us from accessing the field and no CCTV cameras anywhere in sight, which is a real concern."