Emergency teams rushed to the River Thames near Chertsey last week after a Defender was spotted submerged in the river. A dog walker spotted the Land Rover in the river, off Chertsey Bridge Road and, initially, it was feared that there may be someone inside. Police and fire crews from Chertsey and Walton were called to the scene and, using the Walton crew's boat, they established that the vehicle was empty. It transpired that the vehicle had been stolen a few hours earlier from the Laleham home of its owner Daniel Willoughby.
Mr Willoughby had bought the Land Rover earlier this year and had spent money and time refitting the 1990-built vehicle.
He said, 'I use it to go off-roading and I usually pull it onto my property but last night I left it in the road as I was very tired when I got home. I am gutted it has been taken. I think it was stolen at 5am and the only thing they have taken from the car is the stereo, which was broken anyway. I think it must be someone who was jealous as all they have done is just dumped it in the river. It doesn't make any sense.'
Divers from the Environment Agency were called in to attach a tow rope to the vehicle so it could be pulled out of the river. A spokesman for Surrey Police said that it could not confirm if the car had been driven into the river or pushed in by the thieves and said an investigation into the theft had now begun.