At around 11.30pm, officers patrolling in the Felliscliffe area of Harrogate came across a Peugeot car parked in a lay-by.
The officers stopped to investigate and found the vehicle smelled strongly of diesel and several five-gallon containers were found in a nearby ditch along with some pipes.
The occupant of the car, a 41-year-old man from Leeds was arrested at the scene on suspicion of going equipped to steal.
Two other men, both aged 24 and from Leeds were arrested, also on suspicion of going equipped to steal. They were located by officers in a field nearby as they attempted to leave the scene.
All three men were questioned by police and have been released on bail while the investigation continues.
Members of the public can help the police by reporting any suspicious vehicles, people or behaviour. Please call North Yorkshire Police on the non-emergency number 101. Or you can pass information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.