A THIEF who stole a £22,000 caravan in South Devon was stopped by police using a stinger after he was seen towing it near Newton Abbot.

Jamie Miller stole the recently purchased caravan from a park near Berry Pomeroy on April 17 this year but was tracked down by police after they became suspicious as he drove near Telegraph Hill.

They stopped the car which he was using to tow the caravan on the M5 and arrested him after he failed a drugs swipe with a positive reading for cocaine.  

Inquiries showed the car was using false plates which had come from a business in Dumfries, Scotland, and that the car had been stolen from Stroud in Gloucester.

Miller, who has convictions for 110 previous offences and had just been released from prison, claimed he was moving the caravan for a friend and had no idea it was stolen, but police found a heavy duty bolt cutter in the boot of his car which may have been used in the thefts.

Miller, aged 34, of no fixed address, admitted theft, driving without a licence or insurance, and failing to give a sample of blood for drug testing.

He was jailed for ten months and banned from driving for a year after his release by Judge David Evans at Exeter Crown Court.

He told him: 'You have a very long and unenviable record. You have pleaded guilty on the basis that you had been in company with another and were driving the caravan after it had been taken.

'It was stolen with very considerable determination from where it had been left in position by the owners, who not only went through the upheaval of the damage and theft but were also left feeling vulnerable in terms of even staying in it with their family again.

'I have no doubt that any of that crossed your mind for a moment. There must be an uplift in the sentence because of the additional distress you caused and the significant aggravation of your previous convictions.'

Mr Ryan Murray, prosecuting, said the caravan was taken from the Widend Touring Park in South Devon and was spotted by police on the A 380 before Miller’s car was slowed down by a stinger device which punctured its tyres on the M5 near Whimple.

Miller gave a positive drug swipe at the scene but then refused to give an evidential sample, telling police: 'I’m not having any blood done, crack on’ and giving a no comment interview'.

He had 43 convictions for 110 offences, including 70 for dishonesty, and was on prison licence, having been released from a short sentence for shoplifting.

Mr Martin Salloway, defending, said Miller now appreciates the distress he caused and is genuinely remorseful for his actions.