Police looking into two cases where diesel was stolen by drilling into an underground Esso pipeline have widened their investigation and say there have been other breaches of fuel lines.

In April police discovered that thieves had dug down to Esso’s Midline pipeline at Manton in Wiltshire and East Wellow in Hampshire and placed tapping devices. However, investigations have now extended beyond these two counties

A Hampshire Constabulary spokesperson said: "During this investigation, it has been found that there have been other breaches of fuel lines in the south of England.

"Detectives from Lyndhurst CID at Hampshire Constabulary are currently working with other police forces West Mercia (which covers Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire), Gloucestershire and Wiltshire and fuel companies as part of a wider investigation."

Esso said that it did not comment on detailed incidents so it could not confirm whether the additional breaches referred to by Hampshire Police related to its pipeline.

The Midline pipeline carries fuel from the Fawley Refinery on the south coast to the Birmingham Fuels Terminal.

Hampshire Constabulary added that two men, aged 32 and 34, both from the Salisbury area, were arrested by Hampshire detectives on suspicion of conspiring to steal fuel. They are currently on bail pending further enquiries.