Suspected fuel thieves closed a 12-mile stretch of one of the country's busiest motorways today after police were called to reports of a "suspicious vehicle". Warwickshire Police closed a section of the M6 motorway after receiving reports of suspicious activity around a white Ford transit van which had stopped to refuel at Corley service station around 2.30pm.
Members of the public took to social networking sites, speculating that an explosive device had been found. The M6 was closed in both directions between junction 2 near Coventry and junction 4 near Coleshill while officers and military personnel examined the vehicle and the scene.
Following a thorough investigation, the force confirmed the vehicle was not carrying an explosive device, but that they were treating the incident as a bulk fuel theft. A man was detained by officers, arrested and taken into custody in Leamington. Another man is still outstanding, Warwickshire Police said.
SuperIntendent Martin Samuel, area commander for north Warwickshire, said: "We take all reports of suspicious activity and vehicles very seriously, and take whatever action is appropriate to protect people. "On this occasion we were informed of a vehicle which had stopped at the service station to refuel and two men were seen behaving suspiciously around it. Following the horrific events in Woolwich on Wednesday everyone is acutely aware of the threats which some individuals pose and the harm which they are intent on causing.
He added: "After a thorough investigation by police officers and military personnel I can confirm that the vehicle was not carrying an explosive device, as reported by some people, and the incident is now being treated as a bulk fuel theft. I would like to apologise to anyone who was caught up in traffic as a result of the investigation at the service station, but I am sure you will appreciate that the precaution of closing the motorway was necessary. Not only was it rush hour, but the start of the bank holiday weekend. It's hard to think of a more difficult time to close the motorway. I would like to thank the member of the public who reported his suspicions, and everyone who has worked on this incident tonight."
A Highways Agency spokesman confirmed the M6 had now reopened in both directions.