Fuel thefts are rising with around eight a week reported to police in Cumbria, we can reveal.

The cost of filling a family car passed £100 for the first time last month as the cost of living crisis continued to tighten its grip across the UK.

And in the five months to June, 167 fuel thefts were logged by Cumbria Constabulary – more than half of the 240 recorded throughout the entirety of 2021.

The force is now calling on members of the public to be their “eyes and ears” as they work to catch the criminals tempted to cash in on a rise in oil and petrol prices.

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Figures obtained by this publcation show the force has tackled more than 1,500 fuel thefts in just five years.

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That’s an average of around five a week since 2017 – but in 2022, the problem increased, with up to eight a week recorded between January and May.

Brian Gregory from the Alliance of British Drivers said: "With fuel taxes and duty running at over 50% of the cost of fuel and prices around the £2 a litre mark, it's perhaps unsurprising - though in no way forgiveable - that fuel theft is on the rise."

He said a temporary cut in fuel duty could help to "cut the cost of living, put more disposable income in people's pockets and fuel economic growth".

According to Cumbria Constabulary’s response to our Freedom of Information request, most fuel is stolen from petrol stations and supermarkets.

However, it was taken directly from vehicles on hundreds of occasions, and from farms, garages and private dwellings, where home fuel tanks can be targeted.

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The number of thefts dropped significantly during the coronavirus pandemic, when more people were confined to their homes.

But it has climbed steadily since, with figures suggesting 2022 could see the highest level of fuel thefts recorded since at least 2017.

A spokesman for Cumbria Constabulary said fuel thefts had risen nationally, with reports for the first half of this year suggesting the county is following that trend.

He said: “Following a rise in crude oil prices and rise in fuel prices, it would come as no shock to see criminals attempt to cash in on this – both by targeting vehicles and home fuel tanks.”

He said the force recognised the impact of theft on people and communities and as such, took all reports seriously, adding: “Cumbria is a low crime area and a safe place to live, work and visit.

“To assist in reducing these offences, we ask you to be our eyes and ears to tell us who is targeting you and your property.”