Drive-offs from petrol filling stations in East Lancashire that have been reported to the police have risen by more than half over the past three years, new figures show.

A Freedom of Information request by the Lancashire Telegraph found there were 589 reported incidents in the eastern part of the county last year.

This is a 51.8% increase on the 388 drive-offs reported in 2015, across Blackburn, Burnley, Darwen, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley and Rossendale.

In 2016 there were 377 reported incidents, which jumped to 503 the following year.

The data showed that fuel was taken from more than 70 petrol filling stations in the area.

Forecourts operated by Tesco and Sainsbury’s, were some of the worst affected last year, along with Euro Garages, which has its head office in Blackburn.

There have been more than 200 reported incidents in East Lancashire’s Tesco stores in the three-year period, including 67 drive-offs in 2017.

In 2018, there were a total of 59 fuel theft incidents at five of Tesco’s service stations in East Lancashire.

Euro Garages, which has its headquarters in Haslingden Road, Blackburn, had fuel stolen 21 times in 2018. This was nearly double the number of reported incidents in 2015.

The figures also show 96% of petrol filling station fuel theft cases in East Lancashire have been unresolved over the last three years, and just 82 out of 1,770 reported cases resulted in someone being taken to court.