A spate of fuel thefts in Sidmouth, Sidbury, Honiton and Gittisham – in which a dozen vehicles’ petrol tanks have been drilled into – have prompted a warning from police.
Motorists are being urged to report suspicious behaviour after an increase in incidents since the beginning of April.
Nine fuel thefts have been reported in Sidmouth and Sidbury and a further three have been logged in Honiton and Gittisham.
On each occasion the thief has drilled a hole in the fuel tank to syphon its contents, says Devon and Cornwall Police.
Sergeant Roy Hutter said: “These thefts have been from cars parked both on the roadside and in car parks.
“We would urge people to park their cars as publicly as possible and make sure they are secured.
“There is also concern that fuel is leaking on to the roads and parking spaces during the extraction process, causing the surface of the ground to become slippery and therefore presenting a hazard to pedestrians and cyclists as well as a skidding risk to motor vehicles.
“Due to petrol being a highly flammable substance, we are also concerned about the fire hazard this crime could pose.
“We would urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity, or suspicious persons, to report information to us.”
Witnesses, or anyone with any information about these crimes, are asked to contact police on 101 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting crime reference CR/033798/20.