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Police find Hotel Chocolat’s missing Chocmobile burnt out

The chocolate maker revealed the van was stolen two weeks ago and offered a reward for its safe return

An ice cream from the missing ice cream van, the Chocmobile (Hotel Chocolat/PA)
An ice cream from the missing ice cream van, the Chocmobile (Hotel Chocolat/PA)

By Simon Neville, PA City Editor

Hopes of recovering Hotel Chocolat’s missing Chocmobile ice cream truck melted when police revealed it has been found burnt out less than 30 miles from where it was stolen.

Bedfordshire police officers discovered the customised Mercedes Sprinter van on Monday morning in Kempston Hardwick, on the outskirts of Bedford.

Hotel Chocolat boss Angus Thirlwell had previously offered a reward of free chocolate for five years and a tour of the chocolate factory, in return for information on the missing van.

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The Chocmobile before it was burnt out (Hotel Chocolat/PA)

He made the promise over social media, where he first highlighted the van’s theft two weeks ago in the hope of recovering the vehicle unscathed.

The van, which would visit festivals and conferences selling the retailer’s wares, had been due to appear at a BBC Countryfile event prior to the theft.

According to sources at Hotel Chocolat, there had been reports of sightings of discarded cups and packaging in Luton ahead of the discovery on Monday.

Mr Thirlwell told PA at the time that losing the van was “like losing a limb”.

CCTV showed three men breaking into a secure car park at Hotel Chocolat’s head office in Royston, Hertfordshire, smashing the van’s window, loading it onto a flatbed and driving it away.

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Thieves used a flatbed truck to steal the Chocmobile from the company’s secure car park at its head office in Royston, Hertfordshire (Hotel Chocolat/PA)

Hertfordshire Police, which is carrying out the investigation into the theft, said there have not been any arrests.

It said: “Our investigation looking into this incident is still ongoing and we want to encourage people who may have any information to dial 101, quoting 41/69223/19.”

Hotel Chocolat is understood to be liaising with police and Mr Thirwell is expected to visit the recovery site.

PA

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