DETECTIVES say they have found a “significant number” of guns stolen from the back of a lorry on a Basildon industrial estate.

However, Essex Police refused to confirm how many of the 83 shotguns and rifles are still outstanding for “operational reasons”.

Five people are awaiting trial at Basildon Crown Court after the theft of the firearms, worth about £100,000, from a lorry in Swinbourne Road on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate on April 18.

The weapons include 24 shotguns and 59 rifles which were intended to be used for sports such as clay pigeon shooting.

The driver was transporting the weapons from Devon to France and had stopped for a rest when his lorry was broken in to.

Police officers raided two towerblocks in Godman Road, Chadwell St Mary and arrested four people for conspiracy to steal fromamotor vehicle and conspiracy to possess a firearm without a certificate.

Another man was arrested in Benfleet a month later for handling stolen goods.

A spokesman from Essex Police said the force was continuing to search for the outstanding firearms. He said: “A sizeable number of firearms have been recovered.

“There have been no more arrests. We are continuing to try to recover the outstanding firearms. We cannot confirm how many firearms are still missing for operational reasons.”