A CAR thief who took or drove a fleet of stolen cars worth close to £100,000 in a summer-long crimewave has been jailed for four-and-a-half years.

Scott Warner was involved in the taking of everything from a high-end BMW to a Scout group minibus which had been borrowed for a family holiday.

The 31-year-old and his accomplices would often also steal number plates and place them on to the vehicles in a bid to avoid detection.

During one raid in the 2017 spree, Warner and another man arrived at Clearwater Automotive in Rivenhall and asked to hear the engine on a £20,000 BMW.

The pair pretended they wanted to use a Ford Focus – also stolen – in part exchange.

When the salesman was distracted they drove off with both cars, a court heard.

A total of eight cars were also taken from D Salmon Automotive in Frating when car keys were grabbed during an overnight burglary and a car taken from a business in Wix.

A vehicle was also taken from outside a home in Clacton, a business in Wix and the minibus from a caravan park.

Warner, of London Road, Clacton, also made off without paying for diesel from Morrison’s in Harwich.

He admitted stealing cars worth £55,000 and handling stolen vehicles worth £42,500 along with a string of other dishonesty offences.

Warner has served jail time since the offences but was back stealing last summer when he took a decorator’s van left unlocked in Clacton, and used a credit card left inside.

He then drove to the victim’s home address and stole a Volkswagen Polo.

Warner also raided a Sainsbury’s in Clacton stealing booze and scratchcards.

Judge David Pugh jailed him for a total of 55 months at Ipswich Crown Court calling his crimes “professional and sophisticated”.