Thieves stole a senior Tory politician's car and a laptop computer that was in it in a burglary at his home, sources said today.
Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox was alone in his central London property when the burglary took place.
Sources denied that briefing papers for tonight's leaders' television debate were among the items stolen.
Details of the break-in emerged on the day quarterly crime statistics for England and Wales were being published by the Home Office.
Dr Fox had been due to outline the Tories' armed forces manifesto this morning but the launch was cancelled at short notice.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: "Police were called at 7.20am to an address in SE1 to reports of a burglary.
"Officers are currently in attendance and the burglary squad from Southwark are investigating."
There have been no arrests, the spokesman added.
A Conservative spokesman said: "I can confirm that Liam Fox's car was stolen last night and police are investigating."
According to sources, Mr Fox's wife Jesme was not in the property, in a gated community, because she is stuck in Hong Kong due to the travel chaos caused by the volcanic ash.
Dr Fox was today at his flat surveying the damage.
Crime scene officers could be seen working on the rear balcony of the property as Dr Fox, dressed in shirt and tie, looked on through the open patio doors.
A police car was parked behind the smart modern five-storey apartment block.
A lone police officer made regular patrols outside.Reuse content