ARMED police officers swooped to arrest a man wanted on suspicion of car theft after a 45 minute stand off.

Officers flooded Priory Street, Colchester, for the late night operation.

Residents said they saw six police cars parked in the road, along with armed units and they heard the force’s helicopter hovering close over their properties.

Essex Police yesterday confirmed a man was eventually arrested.

A spokesman said: “A man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of theft of a motor vehicle in Priory Street, Colchester on Wednesday.

“He remains in custody.”

One neighbour said he believed the situation was serious given how many police officers were in attendance.

“I looked out the window when I saw the lights and heard the noise and there were six cars,” he said.

“Before that I heard the helicopter.

“I then put two and two together and thought there must be something happening out here.

“I didn’t think about going down to ask what was happening because I know I would not have got any information.

“Judging by the response, it could have been a murder or something like that.

“There were cars everywhere and you would not have been able to get up the road.”

Another neighbour said she heard shouting just after 11.15pm.

“It was men being really loud,” she said.

“My first thought was one of the pubs had been open a bit too late and people were coming back and having a bit of a row.

“But then I heard that they were shouting it was armed police.”

The woman said the area was not a particular trouble hotspot after police seemingly stamped out regular drug dealers using it as a patch about a year ago.

She said: “It was going on for about 45 minutes.

“I heard the helicopter and saw the lights but I just checked the back door was locked and tried to get to sleep.

“We don’t get too much trouble here any more.

“When the bars and the pubs were open properly you used to hear people shouting in the early hours as they went back to their cars.

“Obviously it is a cut through in the middle of the town centre.”