Hampshire Constabulary has said it has no legal powers to seize a stolen caravan which is apparently being lived in by a family of travellers.

Kathleen McClelland, 68, and Michael Curry, 53, had their £20,000 mobile home stolen from a storage park in Church Crookham, Hampshire, in August 2011.

In September last year, Hampshire police located and identified the caravan in a nearby site in Hook when they interviewed a suspect for an unrelated offence.

But because the officers did not have evidence that the owner knew the caravan was stolen when he purchased it, the man could not be prosecuted for theft and the force was unable to seize the property.

A Hampshire police spokesman said: ''Officers attended the site of the caravan for an unrelated offence in September 2012, and while there, checks indicated the caravan was stolen.

''A 22-year-old man from Hook was arrested and interviewed on suspicion of theft, however there was insufficient evidence to prove he had been involved in the theft, or would have known the caravan was stolen when he bought it. He was released with no further action.

''We have no police powers to seize the caravan and have advised the owners to seek civil action in order to recover it.''

Ms McClelland, of Tongham, Surrey, was reported in The Sun as saying: ''They've told us social services would have to be involved to get the family accommodation before they could seize it, otherwise they said it could breach their human rights. We're devastated, it was all we had.''