A sharp rise in the number of petrol station fuel thefts has sparked a police drive to tackle criminals.
The number of drive-offs – where drivers fill-up with petrol and leave without paying – has prompted concerns as many criminals are linked to other offences in the county.
South Division, which covers Preston and South Ribble, had 281 drive-offs between April 2013 and March this year, but have seen 93 more in the last two months alone.
Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner C;ive Grunshaw and the Constabulary today launched a police drive to thwart the thefts, including encouraging affected businesses to install pre-payment pumps, better CCTV, and posters warning customers.
Every garage in Lancashire has been given guidance for dealing with incidents, encouraging them to join the Forecourt Watch scheme to record incidents and capture evidence, help speed up investigations and make sure businesses recover their money.
Mr Grunshaw, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “Garages across the county were seeing more and more drive-offs – and owners clearly wanted to work more closely with the police to reduce this trend.
“Now, I’ve worked with the Constabulary to develop a policy which will help not only businesses but also reduce demand on the police, cutting down on wasted time whist hopefully ensuring more criminals are caught and brought to justice.”
Chief Insp Abid Khan, from Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Lancashire Police has worked closely with our business community to develop the new procedure, and I hope it will provide confidence to the forecourt community.”