A GANG of fuel thieves who had stolen tens of thousands of pounds worth of petrol and diesel, have been busted by Solihull Police.
Nine of the group were arrested at three separate sites on the Stratford Road - known to police as the ‘Shirley Triangle’ due to the amount of fuel thefts occurring there.
One vehicle - a stolen Mercedes - is believed to have been used around 30 times since April alone, often being driven off by offenders after clocking-up hundreds of pounds at the pump in a single visit.
It was found with 12 large fuel tanks stashed in the boot and rear seat foot-wells.
A total of nine men from Birmingham were arrested during last week’s five-day operation at the BP, Shell and Sainsbury’s petrol stations in Shirley.
Last month Solihull Police recorded 90 offences of bilking (making off without paying) - up by more than 50 per cent on the same month in 2009.
Inspector Farooq Sheikh, who led the operation, believes the majority were carried out by a small number of organised gangs.
He said: “These forecourts were being regularly targeted by thieves so we conducted a covert operation to try and identify and apprehend offenders. It’s been a huge success and we believe we’ve caught some of the region’s most prolific fuel thieves.”
Three men - two aged 26 and one 25 - were arrested on suspicion of the Mercedes bilkings and bailed pending further enquiries. Their bail conditions mean the trio are banned from entering Solihull and any petrol station in the West Midlands.