Vigilant staff take on the fuel thieves

South Yorkshire Police Crime Reduction Officer Dene Tinker puts secure number plate screws on Alan and Mary Wilkins Citroen at Morrisons Ecclesfield
South Yorkshire Police Crime Reduction Officer Dene Tinker puts secure number plate screws on Alan and Mary Wilkins Citroen at Morrisons Ecclesfield

GARAGE workers across Sheffield today admitted it is a never ending battle trying to protect themselves from fuel thieves – as police launched an initiative to cut down on number plate thefts.

The Star reported yesterday 113 car number plates were stolen – and 51 ‘drive-off’ thefts from filling stations committed – in just three months in Sheffield.

Soaring petrol prices are believed to be fuelling a crime which sees the equivalent of one drive-off committed every other day.

But vigilant workers said sharing information with other petrol stations is driving down the crime.

Jackie Rigley, manager of the BP Service Station on Bramall Lane, Sheffield, said two drive-offs were committed at her garage last month.

But when she first took over at the garage eight years ago, thefts were a ‘huge’ problem.

She is calling for police to mount undercover operations on forecourts regularly targeted by criminals.

“We are very vigilant here and shut our pumps off at night and we don’t let people fill up drums, which is what they tend to do if they are going to drive off without paying,” she said.

“Staff also write down the number plates of cars that have driven off in the past.”

Hannah Wallace, of Norfolk Park Service Station on East Bank Road, said: “We can see everyone that pulls up and if they look dodgy we don’t authorise the sale. We also stop sales if they are running up high amounts, and we write down registration numbers if we have suspicions.

“Petrol stations keep in touch with each other and ring round with details of people and registrations to be on the lookout for.”

Manor Dhiman, of Ring Road Service Station, Darnall, added: “We get hit once or twice a month – they try to fill up as many drums as they can. They often have fake or stolen plates.”

South Yorkshire Police are handing out anti-theft number plates kits for £1 in a joint initiative with the AA. The security screw kits make it impossible to remove plates without snapping them. Crime reduction officer Dene Tinker said: “I would encourage everyone to secure their plates.”