Quick-thinking officers traced suspects in a string of high-value phone theft cases and took them into custody – with one man now charged to appear at court.

Four reports of phones being stolen came into officers on Tuesday, with one taking place at Northumbria University, one at Newcastle University, one at Sunderland University and the other at a Starbucks coffee shop in Newcastle.

In each instance, expensive iPhone devices were taken from the victims.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: "Thanks to good links that Neighbourhood Policing Team officers have with their dedicated counterparts at the universities, the teams worked with intelligence officers live time and a vehicle was tracked travelling from the North East towards London which was suspected of being used by the suspects.

"Other forces were notified of the vehicle and officers in the Leicestershire Police Force area managed to locate the vehicle on the M1, just north of Watford Gap.

"Three suspects inside the vehicle were taken into custody.

"Officers then travelled to the Leicestershire area to interview and deal with offenders with help from Leicestershire colleagues."

One of those apprehended, a 25-year-old man, has now been charged with six counts of theft, while a woman aged 27 and another man aged 51, have been released on police bail.

Chief Inspector David Wheeler of Northumbria Police, said: “This was excellent work by our officers, who quickly ascertained that this series of crimes could be linked and identified a vehicle which may have been used to transport the suspects.

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“They then contacted colleagues in Forces across the country so that the vehicle suspected of being involved could be traced.”

Chf Insp Wheeler added: “Theft is an invasive crime which can have a devastating impact on victims, which is why we are always keen to identify those responsible and get them into custody.

“We would ask that the public continue to work with us by being mindful of your surroundings when you’re out in public and make sure that your personal belongings are safe and not on view to others if possible.”