THREE men who tried to hide from police following a report of a theft in progress were caught using the police helicopter.

Officers were called shortly before 4am on Sunday, September 10, after the three men were spotted in a white transit van in Montgomery Avenue, Pinehurst, attempting to steal a small mechanical digger.

The three men made off from the scene without the digger, however, their registration number was passed to officers and the van was picked up minutes later by a dog handler from Gloucester, driving with no lights and heading towards Mannington from Great Western Way.

The men fled from the vehicle in the road behind John Lewis at Mannington and made off into fields towards the M4.

One man was located quickly by the dog handler and arrested.

The police helicopter based at NPAS Benson was scrambled and attended promptly and a second man was located hiding under a bush nearby within 10 minutes of the helicopter attending. Officers were directed to the scene and made a second arrest.

The third man was also located by the helicopter crew walking near to Hay Lane 10 minutes later.

All three men, aged 17, 40 and 32, from Berkshire, were arrested on suspicion of attempted theft and have since been released under investigation.

Inspector Colin Conway said: "This is an excellent result and a prime example of great partnership working alongside our colleagues at NPAS and Gloucestershire.

"Thanks to the vigilant member of the public who reported this incident and provided us with clear descriptions of the three men and the vehicle they were travelling in, we were able to respond swiftly and arrest three men within a small time frame.

"Our enquiries into this incident will continue and we'd encourage any further witnesses to the incident to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."