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1 August 2014, 06:36 | Updated: 1 August 2014, 06:40
Durham Police are planning on teaming up with petrol stations across the county to tackle fuel thefts.
Chief Constable Mike Barton's unveiled plans to park an unused patrol car near to filling stations identified as not doing enough to tackle fuel theft.
Durham Police have identified petrol stations where this is happening more frequently and consequently those premises are becoming "hotspots" for thieves.
The car will start off being parked outside Morrison's filling station in North Road Darlington.
This fuel retailer has been identified as one of the filling stations suffering most frequently from fuel theft.
The police vehicle carries a large sign warning customers:
"Criminals are stealing from this garage. . . you're paying for their fuel."
Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir from Durham's Serious Crime and Justice Team said,
"Theft of fuel from filling stations is an issue we believe could be reduced by a more proactive stance from forecourt retailers. One solution for example, is introducing pre-payment for fuel.
Theft of fuel in many cases is the tip of the iceberg. Vehicles used in fuel theft are often stolen or vehicle number plates are stolen prior to the offence taking place to hide the offending vehicle's identity.
The police vehicle is being parked up at one of the filling stations currently identified as having the highest numbers of drive offs.
It is my belief that criminals are actively targeting here as they know they are getting away with it.
We want to encourage forecourt owners to work more closely with the police to reduce all of the criminality associated with this offending."