Theft and fraud victims are being urged to come forward as police probe an estate and letting agents in Westcliff.

Leonard Peters, based in London Road, closed unexpectedly earlier this year.

Police had been investigating the theft of money in Thorpe Bay, with tens of thousands of pounds allegedly withdrawn from an account.

The force confirmed an investigation was opened after an allegation was received on June 3. An arrest was subsequently made in August.

The man, a 41-year-old from Westcliff, has now been released under investigation but police have taken the unusual step of releasing information on the investigation in a bid to get more victims to come forward to pursue a prosecution.

It is alleged tens of thousands of pounds were taken from a bank account belonging to elderly residents at the Fairlawns Development in Thorpe Bay by a managing agent.

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Detectives in the south of the county are investigating multiple allegations of theft and fraud related to property management in Thorpe Bay and the surrounding area.

“We are appealing for anyone with information about these offences to come forward and assist with our enquiries.

“A 41-year-old from Westcliff was arrested on suspicion of theft and fraud on 27 August this year. He has since been released under investigation.

“Anyone with information is asked to call Southend CID on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/86970/19.

“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers 100% anonymously on 0800 555 111.”

A landlord, who owns a property in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, who previously spoke to the Echo, claimed to have not received a month’s rent from Leonard Peters, which manages the property for her.

Managing agents are individuals or companies appointed by groups of residents to look after their communal affairs, including bills for servicing blocks of flats and organising garden and general maintenance.

According to the firm’s website, Leonard Peters had been running for about 50 years in south Essex.

Residents from Fairlawns made repeated attempts to contact the company before they contacted national newspaper, the Times, in relation to the issue.

The Echo, as well as the Times, initially published a story raising concerns about the conduct of the managing agent in July. Call Essex Police on 101.