‘It’s no longer safe to park our cars at home’ – fuel tank thieves strike again

Chief Insp for Dacorum Glen Channer and Hemel Hempstead fire station commander Bob Jackson
Chief Insp for Dacorum Glen Channer and Hemel Hempstead fire station commander Bob Jackson

Hemel Hempstead’s ongoing fuel theft epidemic has shown no signs of relenting as car owners in the Warners End area have once again been targeted by callous crooks.

Police are stepping up their patrols of the area following yet another incident in the town’s Paddock Way, in which the fuel tanks of cars were drilled into and emptied by thieves overnight on Monday.

Gary Merrington, who lives in the road, told the Gazette that he and his wife have now fallen victim to the dangerous and costly crime three times.

He explained they were targeted in October and again in February, before discovering their car had once again been tampered with yesterday morning. His neighbour’s car was also damaged in the attack.

Mr Merrington said: “I had been parking my car and my wife’s car in such a way that it wasn’t possible to drill and drain the tank, or so I thought .

“We are now faced with high repair costs, inconvenience and a general feeling that it’s no longer safe to live in Paddock Way, or park your car there.”

Earlier this year, Dacorum’s Chief Insp Glen Channer and fire station commander Bob Jackson held a police briefing warning the criminals behind the attacks that they were playing Russian roulette with their lives.

The appeal – in which it was revealed the use of power tools to drill into petrol tanks could be lethal for both the culprit and, later, the car owner – followed the news that 56 cars had been targeted in 28 different streets, across six separate police beats in Hemel Hempstead between August and March.

The latest incidents suggest the attacks are once again picking up – as this is not the first time the criminals have taken a break from the potentially fatal practice. Police identified a lull in the thefts between mid-December and early February, which suggested a lone offender or a small group from the area, who may have gone away temporarily.

Insp George Holland of the police safer neighbourhood team said: “Police patrols have been increased in an effort to catch those responsible for these crimes. We will continue to use a range of resources and work alongside Neighbourhood Watch to tackle these thefts.

“They do tend to happen during the night and so I urge anyone who sees anything unusual or anyone acting suspiciously near a vehicle to call police immediately.”

Anyone with any information about the latest reported incident in Paddock Way should call police on the non-emergency number 101, citing crime reference D1/14/3239.