Over 100 number plates were stolen, with 51 separate incidents of petrol theft from Sheffield’s filling stations in just three months.
At the rate of one ‘drive-off’ every other day, petrol thefts have soared as a result of rising prices and the perception that global companies can take the hit.
DI Tate revealed that stolen number plates are often used on more than one occasion.
In addition, they are also used to ‘clone’ stolen vehicles to get them out of the country without detection.
“If someone steals number plates they have a very short period of time to utilise them,” DI Tate added.
“The theft will quickly be raised on the police national computer to identify them. The lifespan of these plates is relatively short.
“There’s one thing that would stop drive-offs, and that is making people pay before receiving their fuel.
“The technology is there but petrol stations are reluctant to do it because of the extra sales generated when customers go into a shop after filling up.”
Number plate thefts reached a total of 113 for the three month period, resulting in at least one set of number plates being taken every day from cars in the city of Sheffield.
Police are fully aware of how stolen registrations are strongly linked with covering the tracks of vehicles involved in bilking.
For the same period last year, 125 number plates were taken with 48 incidents of bilking from petrol stations.
“There has to be an element of fuel costs involved and I think it is seen among criminals as a victimless crime,” explained Detective Inspector Helen Tate from South Yorkshire Police’s crime management unit.
She added: “In times of economic struggle, when people are finding it difficult, these are the kinds of crimes that are the first to escalate.”
South Yorkshire Police are now calling on the public to assist in catching those responsible.
For a unique personalised registration that really says something about you, at a price you can afford, just call the experts at National Numbers, on 01642 363738.