Petrol theft from forecourts across Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire, has halved in the past year after a crime prevention drive by the local police force.

Last year there were 61 reported crimes, compared with 124 in 2011.

Inspector Steve Cartwright, the county east lead for forecourt crime, said the drop is due to his team’s work in making petrol stations “less attractive” and “less subject” to theft.

“We call it target hardening at the forecourts. It’s about making it less attractive for thieves to drive off without paying for petrol,” he said.

“This involves a range of measures from Automatic Number Plate Recognition, CCTV warning signs, pre-pay on some of the most vulnerable pumps as well as upgrading CCTV, which has allowed us to track down offenders and bring them to justice.”

He said he was pleased the initiatives were paying off and that the force would continue to work with forecourts across the district to drive crime down further.

“My colleague Sergeant Karl Hagland is taking the lead on training forecourt staff to be more aware of suspicious behaviour so they can take the appropriate action,” he said.

“It’s not just about filling your car up and driving off. Some people have barrels on the back seat which they also fill up so we train forecourt staff to look out for people filling up their cars with the back doors open.”

He added: “We share intelligence and information with the forecourts and moving forwards we are looking at more dynamic intervention by immediately informing forecourts of any reported stolen vehicles.”