Dozens of holiday makers are arriving home to find cars they thought they left in secure storage were dumped in a builder's yard or a supermarket car park.

Passengers who travelled from Gatwick airport were conned by parking firm Pink Meet and Greet, which promised it would park their cars in a secure compound with 24-hour security patrols and high fences.

Instead the vehicles were driven up to 15 miles away to be left in insecure car parks, by the roadside, in alleyways and in a shop car park.

For the last five days West Sussex trading standards officials, Sussex Police, BAA and NCP, the airport's official parking partner, have been working to sort out the mess left by Pink.

More than 30 cars had to be tracked down after BAA was handed a box containing dozens of keys and very little information on Friday. Most were found in a builder's yard in Horsham, while two were in Somerfield's car park in Crawley and another was parked behind a pub.

Pink Meet and Greet ceased trading on Thursday after a damning report was shown on BBC Watchdog on Tuesday night. The programme revealed that, far from being kept safe by Pink Meet and Greet, cars worth tens of thousands of pounds had been raced against each other, driven at 100mph and abandoned in unsafe locations.

The company's director, 34-year-old Steven Kittle, of Molesham Way, West Moseley, Surrey blamed irresponsible staff.

On Friday Mr Kittle helped BAA and its partners trace the vehicles still missing. Those that have been found have been matched with their owners' details.

NCP spokesman Tim Cowen said: "It was a very bizarre situation. We drafted in extra staff over the weekend.

"The records we are working from aren't terribly clear and there is a concern there might be some more out there and no one knows where the location is.

"Unlicensed operators like this give the whole industry a bad name."

Mr Cowen added that it was not very environmentally friendly to store cars 15 miles from the airport. He praised the actions of BAA and other partners, who sorted out the mess on goodwill.

He said: "This is a big headache for them."

About 30 cars are waiting for their owners in NCP's facilities. Unsuspecting travellers will be informed about the crisis with signs in the arrivals section.

In a statement, BAA said 34 cars had been processed by the partners, who each agreed the condition, mileage and fuel level of each vehicle before signing it over to an official valet.

Owners claiming their cars will be identified by police.

Anyone with concerns about their vehicle should try to contact Pink Meet and Greet, before calling Consumer Direct on 08454 040 506.

Brian Stone, head of consumer services for West Sussex County Council, said trading standards had been working closely with BAA, the police and NCP to come up with the rescue package.

He said: "We have no responsibility directly. We decided we would go the extra mile. It was quite complicated."

Mr Stone said customers should always exercise caution when leaving their cars with a parking firm. He said: "Establish exactly where the vehicle will be parked, will it be secure, will it be there the whole time? The cheapest deal isn't always the best."

Mr Kittle was unavailable for comment.

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The story will be re-visited on tonight's Watchdog on BBC1 at 7pm.