THIEVES have been targeting industrial units and heavy machinery to steal red diesel.
Police say there have been a number of thefts of red diesel from industrial units and heavy plant machinery within factories in the Peterlee and Seaham areas in the past few weeks.
Officers believe the thefts are aimed at selling the diesel on to motorists.
Detective Inspector Dave Cuthbert, of Peterlee CID, said: “We believe thieves are attempting to sell the diesel on to motorists who see it as an attractive option given the high price of fuel.
“Some of the diesel is classified as ‘red’ which is tax exempt and is intended for agricultural use only and is not allowed in private motor vehicles.
“It is a criminal offence to drive a private motor vehicle on red diesel, and HM Revenue and Customs has sweeping powers to fine drivers and seize vehicles, so potentially purchasing cheap fuel could be a very expensive option.”
Anyone with information about diesel thefts should contact officers at Peterlee Police Station on the non-emergency 101 number or contact Crimestoppers confidentially on 0800 555111.