FUEL thieves in North Swindon were stopped in their tracks after police disturbed their activity in the dead of night.

Rapid response officers came across an effort to siphon fuel from vehicles at Groundwell Industrial Estate, which led to an arrest after two properties were searched.

A number of thefts have been reported from industrial estates around the town in recent weeks, with large amounts of fuel being siphoned out of lorries while unguarded.

Wiltshire Police have seen the numbers of fuel thefts rising over recent months as prices are at a premium, and roads officers are finding more instances of smuggled red diesel.

Concerns were first raised in March when the force had seen more than 30 fuel thefts around the county that month, some with more than 1,000 litres of petrol being lifted from vehicles.

DS Jo Clement, of the crime management unit at Wiltshire Police, said: “The price of fuel remains high and a valuable target for thieves.

“Our neighbourhood policing teams alongside our rural crime team work hard to raise awareness and to encourage reporting of suspicious activity in their communities and continue to use channels such as Farm Watch and social media to warn, inform and advise people.”

One man has been arrested in connection with the fuel thefts in Swindon and is on police bail pending further enquiries.

Andrew Carr, police superintendent for Swindon, said: “This has been an intelligence-led operation regarding two individuals.

“There have been a series of fuel thefts, mostly around commercial vehicles because the big lorries will have the most fuel.

“We are talking about a significant amount of fuel having been stolen in order for the two warrants to be obtained.

“It came as the result of some pro-active overnight policing from the response team.

“In the course of their work they disturbed some of the activity at Groundwell Industrial Estate, and leading on from that we have had two warrants executed and one man arrested.

“He has now been released on bail, pending further enquiries.”

“A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “Over the past few weeks the North Swindon neighbourhood policing team have been building evidence to secure some warrants to search two properties in relation to recent large-scale fuel thefts from a number of industrial estates across the town.

“It is hoped that by disrupting their efforts we can reduce their criminal activity. Those warrants were executed on Tuesday and Wednesday. A number of items were seized and further evidence obtained.

“More background work is being done to secure enough evidence to secure a realistic prospect of conviction.We are only able to secure warrants with information from the public.”

Anyone with information about fuel thefts is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.