POLICE are warning motorists to be vigilant following an increase in fuel theft sparked off by soaring petrol and diesel prices.
Thieves are targeting the fuel tanks of cars, lorries and other machinery, and in some cases even setting their sights on homes which use oil to fire their central heating systems.
During the past fortnight there have been 14 fuel thefts in Ellesmere Port – a rate of one a day – of which half have been drivers leaving petrol stations without paying.
In another incident thieves overcame a security fence to gain access to Stanlow Pallets haulage compound in Indigo Road, Ellesmere Port and siphoned diesel from four heavy goods vehicles between 4pm on Thursday and 6.30am Friday.
Detective Chief Inspector Brian Roberts, Crime Manager for Cheshire Police’s Western Area, said: “We are receiving more and more reports of thefts of petrol, diesel and oil.
“Typically, the liquid is siphoned out, but in some cases the culprits have cut fuel pipes to drain the tanks dry.
“Businesses have also fallen foul of the thieves, with lorries and heavy plant machinery targeted most often.
“Scrapyards have been singled out due to the large number of vehicles they tend to house.”
Police are now calling for increased vigilance from residents and businesses as a result of the thefts.
They advise that all vehicles should ideally be stored in a garage or a business lock-up.
Those who keep their vehicles outdoors should have lockable petrol tank caps and park in well-lit areas which are likely to be busy.
There are also a number of anti-siphoning devices available.
Detective Sergeant Dave Snasdell said “We will be stepping up patrols in those areas most at risk and are doing all we can to bring offenders to justice.
“Sadly, it would seem rising petrol and diesel prices are here to stay and, as with many other items, the high value makes free fuel an attractive prospect for thieves.”
If you spot anyone acting suspiciously in your area or have any information about the theft of fuel then contact police on 0845 458 0000.