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Published on September 17th, 2011 | by admin


Petrol Thefts Suspects Netted in Police Operation

A STUDENT is suspected of stealing up to £700 in petrol after driving off from garage forecourts across the West Midlands without paying.


The 23-year-old – who will appear at Solihull Magistrates court on September 19 – is accused of filling up on 13 separate occasions from stations in Solihull and Birmingham between February and June.


He was arrested by Solihull Police on 12 July leaving Sainsbury’s in Stratford Road, Shirley, as part of a special operation targeting fuel thieves.


The initiative – codenamed Operation Kadence – ran throughout July and saw 17 arrests for offences including fuel theft, stealing number plates, drugs possession plus a variety of motoring offences.


As part of the crackdown, plain-clothed officers monitored ‘hot-spot’ petrol stations in Solihull on the look-out for suspicious activity, whilst number plates were run through police computers to check they matched up with the make and model of the vehicle.


And the police push has proved a success with the number of recorded fuel theft offences across the borough having more than halved.


Solihull Police Inspector Farooq Sheikh led Operation Kadence. He said: “Solihull has seen a significant fall in the number of fuel thefts as a result of the operation…anybody considering driving off without paying needs to be aware that, in addition to CCTV cameras, police officers may well be watching.


“People can be quite dismissive of fuel theft, believing it’s largely a victimless crime.


“However, the reality is these offences are often committed by people who’ve stolen number plates from other cars or even stolen vehicles – so offenders have a negative impact on the wider community and tend to be linked to other criminality.


“There are CCTV cameras in almost every petrol station now so offenders stand a good chance of being recognised and identified, plus of course we’ll have an excellent description of their vehicle. It’s a very risky business.”


Police were recording around 100 fuel theft offences every month before Operation Kadence – but during the July push that figure fell to 74 and in August just 49 ‘bilkings’ were reported.


Other arrests during Operation Kadence included a 29-year-old man from Kitts Green who was handed a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for 12 months, and ordered to pay back almost £450 after admitting 11 fuel thefts in Solihull.


Solihull Magistrates, sitting on August 17, also ordered him to abide by a 7pm-7am curfew for 12 weeks, whilst an order was made to deduct compensation payments directly from his benefits.


A 21-year-old man from Hall Green was sentenced to carry out 50 hours of unpaid community work for stealing number plates in Formans Road, Sparkhill, on 29 May and £60 of petrol at Shell in Stockfield Road Yardley on June 1.


And a 20-year-old from Sparkhill admitted driving away from a Sainsbury’s petrol station in Stratford Road, Shirley, on July 5 without paying after filling up with £58.05 of fuel – he will be sentenced on 12 October at Solihull Magistrates Court.


Two other fuel theft suspects remain on police bail, two were cautioned and two released without charge.


Other suspects arrested during the operation were charged with offences such as drugs possession, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance – they are currently going through the court system.

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