SHOPKEEPERS say gipsies have been causing havoc on a Teesside industrial estate.

About 25 caravans converged on Portrack Lane Industrial Estate, in Stockton, at the weekend.

Police believe the gipsies had travelled to Stockton for either a wedding or a funeral.

When travellers parked their caravans in retail store car parks they were accused of harassing shoppers and staff.

Most of the caravans have been moved on by the authorities and retailers say they hope they have seen the last of the visitors.

Asda bosses said between 12 and 14 caravans parked in the stores overflow car park after being served with a notice to leave the nearby Big W store.

Debbie Bayliss, the store's customer service manager, said: "As far as we know, they were here from all over the country to attend a wedding. It must have been quite a do.

"It started on Friday. Initially, two or three caravans turned up in our overflow car park after they were moved on from Big W.

"In the next 45 minutes, another nine arrived, so I went to speak to them politely.

"I phoned the police and they told me they couldn't do anything unless they harassed us.

"Eventually, some of them did harass our customers, so the police were called and they were served notice to leave."

Most of the caravans have since left but one of their chosen sites - the car park in front of a store that is to open soon - is covered in gas canisters and debris from their stay.

At their latest site at the rear of the former John Harrison Limited building, the few travellers who remained declined to comment.

Police confirmed they have received complaints about the travellers and have warned local businesses to be on their guard.

A spokeswoman said: "We have told large businesses in the area that their car parks may be targeted to be used for overnight stays.

"They keep moving around so it is difficult to establish exactly how many are here.

"We are still trying to find out if they are here for a wedding or a funeral."