FOUR men have been arrested in Selby after a fuel theft at a school forced it to close.

Police say they caught suspected thieves in the act, with pipes allegedly running from a van to the fuel tank of Eggborough and Whitley County Primary School.

Officers from North Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Police had been patrolling the area in plain clothes, following a recent rise in thefts from sheds and cars in the area.

PC Tony Morton and PC Dave Clark saw a van parked in Learning Lane with two men on board, and another parked close to the school wall with what appeared to be a pair of pipes which connected the vehicle to the fuel tank, at about 9pm on December 9.

The officers approached the van and arrested two people on suspicion of theft, and when a third man arrived in another vehicle he was arrested on suspicion of being involved in the offence.

West Yorkshire Police’s Air Support Unit spotted a fourth man on the A19, followed him using a tracker dog, and arrested him in connection with the incident minutes later.

All the suspects’ vehicles were seized by the police, as well as a large amount of cash.

A police spokesman said the school was closed for the weekend and a further two days following the incident while replacement fuel was delivered.

PC Morton said: “We will not tolerate this type of criminal activity and we will continue to work together sharing our local intelligence and using whatever it takes to carry on catching criminals to put before the courts.”

Earlier this year, Operation Anzac was launched to target cross-border criminals who travel from out of the area, and a West Yorkshire Police spokesman said the force would continue working with North Yorkshire Police to cut cross-border crime.

The suspects, a 51-year-old man from Goole, a 45-year-old man from Castleford, a 42-year-old man from Knottingley and a 41-year-old man from Doncaster, have all been released on police bail as inquiries continue.