A thief fled to the Czech Republic in an attempt to evade police after being involved in a £200,000 conspiracy to steal hire cars.

Martin Olah, 31, was involved in the theft of expensive cars from UK hire firms, including two at Stansted Airport.

He had been hunted by police since leaving the country last January, and was arrested when he returned to Britain last December to visit relatives.

Olah, of no fixed address, was charged by officers at Stansted Airport CID and pleaded guilty to being involved in the theft of seven cars, worth an estimated £200,000.

He was jailed for 30 months at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday.

Dc Jean Seager, who led the investigation, said Olah, also known as Blanik, had been associated with five others who were convicted in August last year.

She said: "We have been tracking Martin Olah all over Europe after he fled the county when the other five were arrested.

"He first tried to enter the UK again in March 2013 but was stopped by the French authorities when he was found in possession of documents with false details.

"We have also worked closely with other police forces abroad, especially when he cropped up again in Austria where he was involved in the theft of cars from car hire firms in Vienna.

"He was also caught in the Czech Republic in a British hire car with false documentation. A Mercedes worth £75,000 was found in Belgium being driven by his wife.

"The theft of hire cars, particularly at airports, has been a serious problem but after the five men were convicted last year one hire car firm said that we had reduced their losses by 50 per cent.

"We have been working closely with car hire firms at Stansted Airport and fortunately security has been greatly increased as a result of the activities of thieves like Olah and his associates.”