Police were "staggered" to find an 11-year-old behind the wheel of a BMW towing a caravan allegedly stolen in North Yorkshire yesterday (Thursday, March 7).

Police had tracked the black BMW X5 that was using cloned registration plates, following reports that the caravan had been stolen from a holiday site near Thirsk at 3.30pm on Thursday.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: "We stopped a BMW X5 towing a suspected stolen caravan yesterday and were staggered to find an 11-year-old child at the wheel.

"We were able to track the BMW, which was also using cloned registration plates, travelling south on the A1.

"Forty-five minutes after the caravan was reported stolen, we stopped the vehicle on the M1 after it left the A1 at Hook Moor Interchange near Garforth.

"But nothing prepared us for finding the schoolboy sat at the wheel.

"A search of the car also revealed equipment typically used by suspects to carry out thefts and a selection of vehicle registration plates."

The boy was arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including theft, burglary, going equipped for theft, and motoring offences including dangerous driving.

He was questioned and has been released on conditional police bail to allow further enquiries to be carried out.

The spokesperson added: "Thanks to the quick work of our skilled roads policing officers, our control room and intelligence team working in the background, the rightful owners have been updated that their caravan had been found.

"No-one was injured during the incident.

"While we’re talking about caravans, just a reminder that we have seen an increase in caravan thefts across North Yorkshire recently."

Caravan owners have been advised to make it harder for thieves by installing CCTV in the place they park their motorhome, and to consider fitting cameras inside the vehicle.

Lock access to your garden, driveway or garage - and invest in a removable driveway/parking post too.

People are also advised to fit a good alarm/immobiliser, and in particular a tracking device and to use steering wheel and pedal locks.

And most importantly of all, keep all keys locked away safely in your home, well away from doors and windows.

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The spokesperson added: "Get your vehicle - and any expensive property inside - security marked. Your local Neighbourhood Policing Team can help you with this. Just call us on 101.

"And while you're at it, remove any removable items from inside, particularly if they may be seen through windows.

"Take some good quality photos of your vehicle and keep them safe. We could use these to identify your vehicle if it were to be stolen and recovered.

"Report any suspicious activity around your vehicle to the police, so we can take action straight away."