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Fuel theft ‘no longer a crime’, say Devon & Cornwall Police

In response to budget cuts, the police force has said it would not investigate such incidents unless there was obvious proof of criminal intent – such as false number plates.

Assistant chief constable Paul Netherton said: "We need to manage the demand and deploy our limited resources effectively. We are looking at doing things differently and working with our communities to prevent crime. This is part of protecting our resources to deal with those incidents which pose the greatest threat to our community.”

The move has come under fire from the Petrol Retailers’ Association (PRA). Brian Madderson, PRA chairman, commented: “We are alarmed by the growing rate of petrol theft over the last five years. Incidents of bilking have risen due to pump prices going up steeply, and now that police are broadcasting this as a low priority, this will no doubt encourage thieves further.

“Forecourts are being urged to be proactive and toughen up their security, however smaller independent garages who don’t have the financial resources will still largely be at risk. Petrol retailers are paying high business rates, part of which contributes towards spending in the police force, and so for the police to put sole responsibility of fuel theft on the garage is both unfair and irresponsible.

“The PRA has written to The Rt Hon Mike Penning MP informing him of our concerns surrounding this issue and we have requested an immediate meeting to discuss the seriousness of this growing problem amongst police authorities.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.