In the Media

Serial fuel thief still at large after more than 10 years

PUBLISHED May 2, 2012

The man has driven off without paying at least 110 times since 2002, taking £6,200 from various service stations in England and Wales.

Detectives yesterday released CCTV images of the suspect, admitting they are "desperately" trying to track him down.

He has used a variety of cars with false number plates, often topping up his tank every 10 days with up to £90 of fuel.

The fugitive even made off with a jerry can containing £31.30 of fuel at the height of last month's panic buying amid fears of a tanker drivers' strike.

The suspect usually avoids suspicion by walking towards the payment kiosk before doubling back to his car as if he has forgotten something.

He then calmly drives off without paying.

He is known to have struck in Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and South Wales.

Inspector Neil Whitchurch, of West Mercia Police said: "This man has been helping himself to petrol and then driving off without paying for it for many, many years and it's about time he was stopped.

"Over the course of the past decade we have tried to identify this man in a number of different ways but at the moment he continues to prove elusive.

"He has become quite a notorious figure for officers locally and he's a fairly famous face on the Herefordshire Territorial Policing Unit because he has been offending for so long.

"I think we've all had enough of discovering new offences he's committed and therefore we're desperately keen to put a name to his face."

He added: "Over the years he has committed offences driving any number of different makes of vehicle - including Audis, Vauxhalls, Peugeots and Volkswagens - and in almost all the cases the vehicles have been displaying false number plates."

Police said the man always wears a hat when stealing fuel and have released images showing three different types of headgear he has sported.

The thief, who often also wears glasses and a boiler suit, is believed to be in his 50s.

One theory explaining all the different cars is that he could have a job connected to the motor trade.

He used a blue Audi estate in his latest raids, at a Tesco in Hereford on April 11, a Morrisons in nearby Ross-on-Wye on March 23 and a Waitrose across the Welsh border in Abergavenny on March 12.

He first came to the police's attention in April 2002 and since then has been linked petrol and diesel thefts in the West Mercia police area - Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

The thefts have been committed at various service stations across the two counties and police believe the same man has also been offending in Gloucestershire, Gwent and mid-Wales.

The offences West Mercia Police have recorded officially are only the ones that have directly been linked to the man in their area but officers believe he may also have committed offences elsewhere.