Police who found the three boys who went missing four days ago said there may have been a plan to "spirit them out of the country."
They failed to return to their foster carers' home in Sunderland, after setting out on a tea-time bike ride to a local park.
Instead, they caught a Metro to Newcastle, then took a pre-booked taxi to London and spent two nights in the capital before heading for Birmingham.
Superintendent Alan Veitch, who led the major investigation to find them, said it was "entirely possible" that the plan was to get the boys out of the country.
More top news
There has been 14 cases of drug related overdoses in the last 24 hours, one of which resulted in the death of a 50-year-old man.
Balloons were released for teenage couple Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, while flowers have been laid for Philip Tron and Courtney Boyle.
33-year-old Shaun O'Connell, who lived in Throckley, died after a two vehicle collision on the A696 near Kirkwhelpington near Otterburn.