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Police helicopter search for metal thieves sparks Barnstaple UFO speculation

By e_glanfield  |  Posted: February 08, 2013

A late-night search by the police helicopter for alleged metal thieves sparked speculation of a UFO over Barnstaple.

Local police officers rushed to the Western Power compound in Victoria Road in the Newport area shortly after 11.30pm on Wednesday night after its automated security alarm sounded.

The Devon and Cornwall Police helicopter also scrambled to the scene from its base in Middlemoor.

Upon arrival at the scene, ground officers said they saw two boys running from the compound.

The police helicopter hovered overhead and used a thermal imaging camera to locate the men.

Ground officers continued searching the local area, including the vicinity around the Rose Lane Tesco store, before arresting two youths nearby.

A 17-year-old boy from Barnstaple and a 16-year-old boy from Ilfracombe were both arrested on suspicion of burglary. Investigating officers recovered two reels of copper wire as part of the investigation.

They were taken into custody at Barnstaple Police Station before being interviewed by officers.

The 16-year-old from Ilfracombe was charged with theft of copper and bailed to appear before North and East Devon youth court on February 26.

The 17-year-old was bailed to return to Barnstaple Police Station on March 11.

Many residents were woken by the police helicopter, with several reporting seeing a low-flying noisy ‘object’ sparking speculation across the town of a UFO.

One woman, who didn’t wish to be named for fear her friends would think she was “bonkers”, called the Journal to say she thought she had been woken by a UFO.

She said: “I was woken up by this loud noise but couldn’t be bothered to go and see what it was.

“But my daughter went out on her balcony and took pictures of what she’s sure was a UFO.

“You can’t really see it in the pictures but it looks like a flame or a strip light.

“It sounded like a helicopter crossed with a motorbike and a washing machine on its spin cycle.

“It was quite far away but really loud.”

NATS, the organisation responsible for air traffic control in the UK, said it had received no reports of UFOs and that no unexplained objects had been tracked by radar.

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