A family have appealed for help in tracing their beloved Land Rover after it was stolen from their home.

Affectionately known as The Bus, Kelvin and Sally Jones’ trusty red Land Rover Defender, with its distinctive white roof, was more a part of the family than just a car.

For almost a decade the couple drove it across Europe on holidays to France and Spain, towing their six bicycles strapped to a trailer.

There was plenty of room in the spacious 16-year-old vehicle for their four sons – Ben, now 17, Harry, 14, Tom, 11, and Ivor, eight.

It was also a familiar sight in Netheravon where local youngsters were often given rides and people would wave as it was driven by.

Now the Jones family is devastated after The Bus – which they had driven 130,000 miles during the past nine years – was stolen from their home in the village.

Media worker Mr Jones, 51, believes the 4x4 was snatched to order as the theft coincided with a new survey saying the Land Rover Defender was now the UK’s most stolen car.

As police launched an appeal in a bid to trace the Land Rover, Mr Jones said: “Sadly I don’t think we’ll ever see it again.

“Even now it may be abroad somewhere or in a container waiting to be shipped out.”

The couple bought the Defender for £15,000 from Land Rover specialist WJ Joyce in Trowbridge in 2003 when it was seven years old.

It had been used as a showroom car, which is when it was given its white roof.

“It was certainly a very distinctive looking car,” said Mr Jones.

“It was perfect for our needs. There was plenty of space inside for the four boys and we took it along with the bikes on holidays to France and Spain.”

The family referred to it as The Bus because of its size and registration, R999 BUS.

He said: “It was very familiar sight in Netheravon.

“As well as driving our own kids around we’d often have their friends inside too. We’d drive around with lots of children onboard.”

Mr Jones said it only had 10,000 miles on the clock when they bought it and that since then they had spent around £10,000 maintaining it.

The Defender was stolen overnight on November 11 from the rear of the family home in High Street.

Mr Jones said it was probably taken between 4am and 6am and believes The Bus was earmarked by specialist car thieves.

He said: “You can’t see it from the front of the house, so it’s not as if someone was passing, saw it and took it. It was a planned theft, I’m sure of that.”

PCSO Maria Downham, of Wiltshire police, said: “This is a very well cared for and much-loved family car.

“We are very keen to hear from anyone who may have seen this distinctive looking vehicle.”

Witnesses can call either 101 or 07528 972563.