COPS have tracked-down a handful of guns stolen off the back of a lorry in Basildon.

It is believed the firearms were mis-sold as air-rifles to people in Thurrock in the run up to the Bank Holiday weekend.

Police say the finds have given them “hope and encouragement” that the shot guns and rifles are still in the Grays, Tilbury and Chadwell St Mary areas.

They are warning the public, that anyone who has one of the guns and does not contact police could be arrested and prosecuted.

The maximum sentence is five years in prison.

The 24 shot guns and 59 rifles- used for sports such as clay pigeon shooting- were stolen off the back of a lorry as it was parked in Swinbourne Road on the Burnt Mills Industrial Estate in Basildon at about 1am on April 18.

Four people appeared at Basildon Magistrates’ Court on Thursday, charged with conspiring to steal the guns, and have been remanded in custody until July.

A further six people, arrested in connection with the theft are on police bail until later this month.

Cops have raided every flat in a tower block in Godman Road, Chadwell St Mary, but have been unable to find any of the firearms.

However following a media appeal on Saturday, a number of people have contacted police to say they bought some of the guns, believing they were air weapons.

A police operation to find the rest of the weapons continues and officers say they are ready to respond to any information given to them.

Anyone who who has bought or believes they may have one of the stolen guns is urged to contact Essex Police on 999 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111 and officers will arrange to meet with them.