POLICE are hunting a thief who stole a van after snatching the keys from the driver’s hand.

The driver of the van – a white Ford Transit – stopped in Great Smeaton, near Northallerton, at about 11.10am today, December 20, to ask a man for directions.

The man could not help so the driver turned his van around before stopping it on the A167 near to Thorpe Row in the village.

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He got out of his van to make a delivery and was approached by the same man who he had asked for directions. The man then snatched the keys from the driver’s hand, got into his van and drove off at speed towards Northallerton.

The suspect is in his early twenties, of skinny build, around 6ft 1in tall. He was clean shaven with short, blonde hair and was wearing a long black jacket of shell-suit type material, black trousers and black shoes. It is believed he spoke with a local accent.

Detectives in Northallerton are appealing for any witnesses to the incident and to anyone who saw a man matching the suspect’s description walking along the A167 on the morning of the offence, or saw the white van drive away.

Contact 101, select option two and ask for Northallerton CID. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.