Fuel theft in Great Yarmouth has increased by 32pc over the past five years.

Figures from Norfolk Constabulary show there were 41 fuel thefts in the town last year, up from 31 incidents in 2019.

The majority of thefts still happen at petrol stations - but last year, on one occasion, fuel was even stolen from the emergency services.

Between 2019 and 2023, there were 167 fuel thefts in the area, with incidents happening at forecourts 149 times.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: The Jet filling station on Northgate Street in Great Yarmouth.

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A spokesperson for Norfolk Police said: "We have seen an increase in the number of people driving off from petrol stations without paying which is the main reason behind the increase.

"Some of these are genuine mistakes where the person has returned to pay and has been given words of advice.

"There isn’t any evidence to suggest the thefts are linked to organised crime," the spokesperson added.

Residential locations were the target on six occasions, followed by four thefts at commercial premises, two from building sites, and one each from boats, farmland and the emergency services.

In 76 cases, out of a total of 167, no suspect was identified and the investigation was closed.

Five suspects were charged.

In 2023, the months with the most fuel thefts were March and October, both with six incidents each.

No month had less than two thefts.

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Stealing fuel is known as ‘bilking’ and falls under the Theft Act 1978.

Anyone who drives off without paying risks a maximum penalty of two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine.

Norfolk Police said that where evidence is obtained, they will always look to take action against fuel thieves.

Recent years have also seen a rise in the theft of heating oil, triggered by soaring prices.