Fuel thieves are costing Blackpool petrol stations thousands of pounds a year – and experts say rising prices could be to blame.
More than £47,000 of fuel was stolen from petrol stations across the county in the last financial year – and £2,443.88 of that was in Blackpool.
However, police say they are working to sort the problem and launched a Forecourt Watch scheme last month.
Of the total 628 offences, 11 were settled with restorative justice, 32 people had the crime taken into consideration with other charges, five were given a caution, 18 people received a summons and 31 people were charged.
Mustak Adam, who owns Corton Beach petrol station, on Central Drive, said: “Four or five months ago, a big Land Rover with dodgy number plates came in, put about £110 of fuel in and drove away.
“We have security cameras and we are all doing our best but often the police say there is nothing they can do – and we don’t get that money back.”
Insp James Black, of Lancashire Police, said: “The constabulary has identified that there has been an increase in reported theft of fuel offences.
“As a result, we commenced work with partners and individuals within the fuel trade in order to collectively develop processes for the prevention, reporting, recording and investigation of these offences.
“Neighbourhood Policing Teams across the county have been out visiting fuel retailers providing them with clarity on the process and pertinent crime prevention advice.”
Paul Watters, the AA’s head of roads policy, said fuel theft has always been a problem.
He said: “It is criminality – it is the same as shoplifting, but they are probably netting more value than a shoplifter.
“You could put it down, perhaps a little bit, to the price of fuel and the economic state of affairs that some people are in, but it is no different to burgling somebody’s house.”