A THIEF stole a van from a house in Billericay and drove it the wrong way down the motorway for 50 miles.

About 100 vehicles were forced to swerve out the way as the reckless driver tried to evade capture from the police.

Fortunately nobody was injured.

The drama unfolded after a Transit van was stolen from a house in Stock Road in Billericay at about 1.40am on Wednesday.

Officers scoured the area in search of the vehicles and eventually spotted it near to Ongar where they tried to stop it.

The van continued along the A414 to Hastingwood where it joined the M11, driving north on the southbound carriageway.

Essex police kept tabs on the van from the northbound carriageway while a police helicopter flew overheard.

Up to 100 vehicles, including HGVs, were forced to swerve as the van continued from the M11 on to the A14 in Cambridgeshire.

The van stopped after crashing into an HGV near Junction 24 of the A14 at Godmanchester.

A 19-year-old man from Romford was arrested on suspicion of aggravated taking a vehicle without consent, dangerous driving, no insurance, no licence and failing to stop for police. He is currently in custody in Essex.

Any witnesses or drivers who were forced to take evasive action on the A414, M11 and A14 should contact detectives at Basildon CID on 101.