businesses in south east Northumberland are being warned to be on guard against fuel thieves.
Police have been called out to investigate a spate of thefts of diesel, petrol and oil from vehicles and tanks at farms and business and industrial sites over recent weeks.
Criminals have been targeting remote business parks, vehicle depots and industrial sites, stealing hundreds or even thousands of pounds’ worth of fuel at a time.
Officers are taking action and are running a number of operations aimed at stopping the criminals responsible.
Chief Superintendent Mark Dennett said: “We are running a number of operations across Northumberland stopping vehicles travelling late at night and 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 siphoning tubes, drums and other such equipment on many occasions.
“We will continue to stop those who we think are using the county’s roads to commit crimes and will continue to take action against what is becoming an increasing concern within the county.
“I’d urge all businesses throughout Northumberland that keep any kind of fuel stores – drums, generators and containers – to protect them.
“These are targets for thieves, and in order to stop them, we need your help.”
Businesses are advised to consider leaving vehicles empty overnight and filling them up in the morning and to ask drivers to be vigilant and to park in well-lit areas.
If possible, lorries should be parked fuel tank to fuel tank or up against a wall, say police.
They also urge businesses to ensure that compounds are secure and fences and gates are intact, as well as considering installing a perimeter alarm and CCTV.
Officers are visiting farms and business premises and offering tips on how to make them a less attractive target for fuel thieves.
Anyone seeking further advice should call Northumbria Police on 03456 043043 or visit www.northumbria.police.uk