POLICE have named a “dangerous” man they are hunting who is believed to be behind a police chase across South Essex.

Mark Box, 29, from Southend, should not be approached, but residents should call police on their emergency 999 number if they spot him.

He is believed to have made chase from police who raided three properties in Southend, Westcliff and Benfleet yesterday in connection with the theft of guns worth £100,000 from a lorry in Basildon on April 18.

The police chase led to a police car crashing into a lamp post in Blenheim Chase, Leigh, at about 11am yesterday.

Box then evaded police and has not been seen since. His van was later found abandoned on Eastern Esplanade, Southend.

Senior investigating officer, DCI Stuart Smith, said: "We strongly urge Mark Box to hand himself otherwise he will be arrested by armed officers. He needs to call us or attend his nearest police station. Our investigation to locate and recover these stolen weapons continues with officers ready to respond to information given to us.”

Four people have so far been charged with conspiring to steal the firearms. They are remanded in court custody until the end of July, with another man who appeared at Basildon Magistrates Court earlier today to hear charges of handling some of the stolen firearms.

Police are still hunting the majority of the 24 shotguns and 59 rifles which were stolen from the lorry on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate in Basildon.

Anyone found to be in possession of a firearm will be arrested, with anyone convicted facing a possible five years’ imprisonment.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of Mark Box or has information about the weapons is urged to contact Essex Police on 999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.