A CHESHIRE fire chief has warned a spate of petrol thefts could cause the death of an innocent person.
A new craze for draining tanks by cutting fuel lines has been spreading across the county.
Since the summer, firefighters and police have been regularly called out after vehicles have been targeted in the street and parked on the driveway at their owner's home.
Last night, Chester station officer Ben Bellis warned the crime was endangering lives.
He said: "This phenomenon of cutting fuel lines is putting members of the public in danger. All it takes is one person to walk past and discard a cigarette or a child to be playing near a car that has had this done to it for there to be a serious injury.
"We anticipate if this problem continues it could cause serious harm to people.
"They don't always just cut the fuel line either. We have known cases where petrol has been stolen and the car has then been set on fire."
The most recent incident was in Stanford Road, Blacon, at 9pm on Sunday.
The fuel line was cut by thieves who drained the tank, dousing the driveway with spilt petrol.
Sub officer Gerrard was called to the incident.
He said: "The householders were at risk from petrol on the driveway igniting the car and possibly the front of the house.
"This is one of many fuel lines which have been cut to steal petrol in the Blacon area this year.
"The public should take this as a reminder to park in a lit area and keep the car as secure as possible at all times."
Cheshire has been a hotspot for arson attacks and car crime and a campaign was launched over the summer to curb the growing problem.
It is being run by the fire service, police, Chester City Council and Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council.
Station officer Bellis added: "We don't want to alarm people but we do urge car owners to make their vehicles as safe as possible.
"Car arson and related crimes are a big problem. This is something we are working very hard to stop, alongside the police and the two councils.
"We want to stop these offences and would ask anyone who has information about the problem to contact the police. "Also we want people to report abandoned cars to the councils so they can be removed before anyone has a chance to set them on fire."
Contact Chester City Council's hot-line on 01244-402 477 or Ellesmere Port and Neston Council on 0151-356 6557.