Beware of fuel thieves, police warn

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FUEL thieves are on the prowl in Northumberland and businesses are being urged to do all they can to deter them.

Northumbria Police has issued the alert after a number of recent reports of people stealing diesel, petrol and oil from vehicles and tanks at business and industrial sites across the county.

Officers are running a number of road-based operations to try to stop criminals using the road network to travel to commit crimes.

Chief Superintendent Mark Dennett said: “We are running a number of operations across Northumberland stopping vehicles travelling late at night, checking vans, flat-bed lorries and other vehicles to find out what people are up to and what exactly they are carrying in the backs of their vehicles.

“This action has seen a number of arrests made in connection with fuel thefts and officers have found criminals in possession of syphoning tubes, drums and other such equipment on many occasions.

“I’d urge all businesses throughout Northumberland that keep any kind of fuel stores such as drums, generators and containers to protect them. These are targets for thieves and in order to stop them we need your help.”

Businesses are asked to take the following steps.

l Consider leaving the vehicles empty overnight and ask the drivers to refuel in the morning — display signage enforcing this rule

l Ask drivers to be vigilant and to park in well-lit areas. Ensure any suspicious behaviour is reported to the police.

l Lorries should be parked fuel tank to fuel tank or parked up against a wall to make access more difficult.

l Ensure compounds are secure and fences/gates are intact. Consider installing a perimeter alarm and CCTV.

Officers across Northumberland are visiting farms and businesses and giving advice on how to make themselves less of a target.

Anyone who wants to speak to local officers about what they can do can contact them on 03456 043043. More information is available at www.northumbria.police.uk