A CRACKDOWN has begun to drive down the number of diesel thefts in the Morpeth area.
Officers at Northumbria Police are targeting hotspot areas where there have been a number of reported incidents
The neighbourhood policing team will also be working with HMRC to prosecute those illegally using red diesel or buying stolen diesel.
The move comes after police and HMRC attended a building site in Morpeth and dip-tested several of the workers’ vehicles.
Two vehicles were found to contain red diesel, with the owners issued with on-the-spot fines of £500 rather than having their vehicles seized.
Officers also have the powers to do spot checks of vehicles they suspect to be carrying red diesel, which can result in the vehicle being seized or a large fine for the driver.
Neighbourhood Inspector Dave Simpson, pictured, has also warned people that storing fuel at their property could be dangerous.
“We are seeing an increase in fuel thefts across Northumberland with the majority of offences happening overnight,” he said.
“I would urge people to report any suspicious activity straight away.
“Owners of construction and farm vehicles should ensure that they keep their vehicles secure and follow our crime prevention advice to deter criminals.
“Park vehicles in view of CCTV, near security lighting or where the tank cannot be easily accessed.
“Fit locking fuel caps to vehicles and don’t leave them full of fuel overnight.
“I would also like to remind people how dangerous it is to store fuel or drive around with canisters of fuel in your vehicle.
“The slightest trigger can cause fuel to ignite which can have catastrophic consequences.”
HMRC senior officer Julia Ryder said: “We are committed to working in partnership with Northumbria Police to help tackle this issue.
“The misuse of rebated fuels such as red diesel and kerosene is a criminal offence and if caught you could face a fine, have your vehicle seized and even face prosecution.”
Anyone who would like any further advice or has any issues can contact police on 101 or e-mail email@example.com