Gangs in the Black Country are stealing thousands of gallons of fuel by breaking into underground tanks on petrol station forecourts.
Almost 2,000 gallons of diesel were taken from the station at Morrisons supermarket in Bilston last night.
The thieves struck at around 9pm. A similar theft has been reported at the Greenfield Service Station on Manor Way, Halesowen, which saw around 3,300 gallons of fuel taken.
Police are now investigating both incidents and say in each case the thieves took up manhole covers on the forecourts to get access to the underground tanks.
Fuel theft has been a major problem for petrol stations across the region for years as prices at the pumps continue to rise.
But, up until now, criminals have only been able to steal fairly modest amounts at any one time.
Chris Jones, manager at Morrisons in Bilston, which is off the Black Country Route, said today that the petrol station was open as usual.
He added: “We are due to get a top up of fuel later today.”
The store was closed at the time of the incident and the thieves also managed to spill some of the diesel on the floor, meaning it had to be cleaned up.
West Midlands Police spokeswoman Deb Edmonds said the incident in Halesowen happened when the petrol station was closed for refurbishment on October 30. She also appealed for any witnesses to either incident to come forward and speak to officers.
Anyone with information about the petrol station theft is asked to contact local police on 101 or via independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.