Plates thefts alerts

A SPATE of number plate thefts linked to fuel ‘bilkings’ has prompted police warn vehicle owners and garages be on alert.

The number plates have been stolen from private vehicles in the Peterlee and Seaham areas and have then been used on vehicles which have been filled up with large amounts of fuel by thieves who have driven off without paying.

It is not only the vehicles that are being filled up with fuel, as in one instance a motorist filled a number of containers with petrol then drove off without paying.

“We’ve had 10 of these incidents in east Durham in the last four weeks, five in the Peterlee and Seaham area and five in the Durham area,” said Inspector Dave Coxon, from the Peterlee neighbourhood team.

“Some of the plates were stolen from cars parked outside people’s homes, but we had one this week stolen from a car parked in a supermarket car park.

“It’s a double-edged theft, stealing the number plate in the first place then using it to steal fuel.”

People are being reminded that they can fit number plates with tamper-proof screws which can be bought quite cheaply from automotive or hardware stores.

They are also being asked to contact police if they see anyone tampering with a car number plate.

Local officers are also keeping a list of the stolen plates so that local garages can be given the details.

“Everyone can have a part to play in curbing this crime,” added Insp Coxon.

People can contact police on 0300 6060365.