A 120 MPH police chase during which a car travelled the wrong way along the A64 near York was sparked by suspicions that the vehicle was involved in ATM thefts, it emerged today.

This picture of the vehicle after it ended up crashing into a bush near the York Designer Outlet has also been tweeted by police.

The pursuit ended early yesterday with three men being arrested while up a tree.

North Yorkshire Police said the pursuit around York, which involved a police helicopter, began at about 2.30 am when officers were on patrol and became aware of a suspicious vehicle travelling along the eastbound A64 towards the city.

"At about 2.30am, they caught sight of a car matching the description on the B1224 near the roundabout with the A1237 outer ring road," said a force spokesman.

"The car, a white Seat Leon, accelerated away from the police, first north along the A1237 and then south back towards the A64, reaching speeds of 100mph.

"Officers pursued it and deployed a stinger to try to bring it to a halt."

He said that at one point, the Seat drove along the wrong side of the A64, travelling east on the westbound carriageway.

He said that a short time later, the car was found abandoned in a hedge near the York Designer Outlet shopping centre at Fulford.

"As a police dog and the National Police Air Service helicopter made their way towards the abandoned car, officers put a cordon round the area," he said.

"At about 3am, the helicopter directed officers towards some activity near Germany Beck, which turned out to be three men in a tree.

"The three men, aged 38, 23 and 16, were arrested and taken to custody.

|"They have been arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, failing to stop, and burglary and theft offences. They remain in custody at this time. The car was seized for forensic examination."

The hovering of the police helicopter over Fulford woke up and irritated local residents, one of whom tweeted: "Love it when there’s a helicopter circling my house really low at 3am."

The force's operational unit tweeted today that its team 'spotted the vehicle in our area suspected to be involved in ATM thefts. '

It added that the vehicle reached speeds of 120 mph or more during the pursuit.