Van thief escapes police by leaping from stolen vehicle to sprint across six lanes on the M61 

This is the dramatic moment a van thief escaped police by sprinting across six lanes of oncoming traffic along a main northern motorway.

Footage shows the police tailing a vehicle, which was towing another van, before ushering the vehicles into a hard shoulder on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester.

Within a matter of seconds, a man bursts from the towed van and frantically sprints a short distance of the motorway.

A thief, who was sat in a towed van, escaped police by sprinting across six lanes on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester

A thief, who was sat in a towed van, escaped police by sprinting across six lanes on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester

A thief, who was sat in a towed van, escaped police by sprinting across six lanes on the M61 near Bolton, Greater Manchester

He then sprints into oncoming traffic on the closest two lanes, in the clip which has gathered 13.2k views.   

He miraculously manages to cross three lanes going in either direction without being hit or causing an accident before running to freedom.

Officers arrested the driver on suspicion of theft, but the other man remains at large.

The vehicle (pictured) was ushered to the hard shoulder by Great Manchester Police on February 12. Within a matter of seconds, a man bursts from the vehicle and hastily runs along the motorway

The vehicle (pictured) was ushered to the hard shoulder by Great Manchester Police on February 12. Within a matter of seconds, a man bursts from the vehicle and hastily runs along the motorway

The vehicle (pictured) was ushered to the hard shoulder by Great Manchester Police on February 12. Within a matter of seconds, a man bursts from the vehicle and hastily runs along the motorway

The bizarre moment was captured by Greater Manchester Police (GMP) traffic officers at around 4pm on February 12. 

A GMP spokesman tweeted: ‘Driver of the other van arrested for theft after it was found the van being towed was recently stolen on false plates.’

They later added: ‘There’s no way I’m running across 6 lanes of a live motorway as I want to make it home safe at the end of a shift.

He sprints along the main motorway and manages to make his journey without suffering any injuries. Officers arrested the driver on suspicion of theft, but the other man remains at large

He sprints along the main motorway and manages to make his journey without suffering any injuries. Officers arrested the driver on suspicion of theft, but the other man remains at large

He sprints along the main motorway and manages to make his journey without suffering any injuries. Officers arrested the driver on suspicion of theft, but the other man remains at large

‘I’m happy enough that one of the two offenders are now sat in a cell.’ 

Social media users were astounded by the thief’s ability to narrowly escape being hit by the fast-moving traffic.

Twitter user Mark said ‘wow, he’s so lucky’ while another said it was ‘unbelievable’ and shared their sympathy to the officers who they bet ‘must have had [their] heart in [their] mouth’ while they watched him bolt across the lanes.

Under UK legislation, it is illegal to tow a vehicle on the motorway if it didn’t break down there. 

Vehicles towing a caravan must never exceed 50mph on single carriageways or 60mph on dual carriageways. 

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