A STOLEN 10-tonne road roller was pursued through the streets of Bolton in the middle of the night.

Police traffic officers were alerted to reports of the machine “on the loose” at approximately 2am on Wednesday - though it was travelling at just 4mph.

The engine could not be halted or stopped, according to officers, and was driven down Radcliffe Road before eventually being abandoned in Raikes Road, Darcy Lever.

The man driving the roller ran off and police say no arrests have been made, but the roller was recovered.

The engineering vehicle was stolen from near the junction of Radcliffe Road and Bradford Street, where contractor J Hopkins is carrying out road resurfacing works for Bolton Council.

Company director Sean Hopkins said that the roller has been taken to a secure police compound and will be collected either later today or tomorrow.

He added: "From what the police have said, we don't think it has been damaged. It was just hotwired."

Nearby neighbours reported seeing a young man fleeing the scene. They described him as being aged in his 20s, wearing a grey top and tracksuit bottoms.

Angela Kirkman, of Raikes Road, said: "We heard the sirens at about 2.15am and when I came outside there were two police cars at the top of the road.

"I could see someone hiding in another house's garden and then they ran away.

"We do get quite a few police chases around here, but not usually like this."

Neighbour Bill Markland added: "I heard the sirens coming up the road and they seemed to go on and on.

"We thought there might be a gas leak or some emergency like that.

"The roller stopped just opposite my house, then the police came with a loader to take it away at about 6am.

"It is not exactly a good getaway vehicle."

The pursuit lasted approximately half an hour after the vehicle was taken from the spot where it had been left by the contractors overnight.

Road rollers — often known colloquially as steamrollers — are used to compact soil, gravel, concrete, or asphalt in the construction of roads.

Police are appealing for anyone who witnessed the chase to come forward with information.

Witnesses can contact police on 101 or, alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.