One of Britain's most wanted criminals is in the North and still on the run from police.
It was believed notorious robber Brian Thexton was evading police somewhere in Spain, after last week being listed along with a dozen other fugitives hiding out there.
Named on Britain’s most wanted list, Thexton carried out raids in which homeowners were tied with cable and forced to part with alarm codes and safe combinations.
But rather than being holed up on the Costa Del Sol, the 37-year-old – originally from Durham – has been spotted in the North and managed to give police the slip.
Police have revealed they were inches away from catching the quick-footed robber.
He is thought to have driven off in a white Vauxhall Insignia car, injuring a police officer, in Lancaster.
Lancashire Police said Thexton was sighted at around 9am on November 16 and was asked to pull over by an officer in Aberdeen Road.
Walking over to the car the officer reached into the vehicle to remove the keys from the ignition, a spokesman said. He added: “At this point the car was driven away, trapping the officer’s arm and dragging him a short distance down the road.
“Luckily, the officer freed himself before he was seriously injured. The car was then driven away at speed, mounting the kerb, narrowly missing pedestrians.”
The car was later found on fire in Fernham Carr Lane.
The sighting has sparked a national hunt for Thexford.
Det Insp Bev Foster said: “Following the incident, we have set up a team of officers dedicated to tracking this person down and we are liaising with a number of other forces across England, as well as the National Crime Agency.
“This man has shown himself to be dangerous and to have very little regard for his actions so we would ask the public to be vigilant and not to approach him but report sightings to the police immediately.
“Any details could be crucial. If anyone thinks they have seen him or if they have any information at all, I would urge them to come forward.”
Thexton is accused of being involved in vicious robberies. In one the gang impersonated police officers to dupe the victims into opening the door, before brandishing a pickaxe handle and a baseball bat.
Anyone with information can contact police by calling 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The most wanted list was recently published as part of Operation Captura.
Also named in the appeal was Keith Turner, who served a life sentence for the manslaughter of his mother and sister in Cramlington, Northumberland, but is currently being sought on fraud charges.