A West Midlands petrol thief on bail fled to New York but was arrested at Heathrow when he attempted to return to the UK.

Javid Hussain from Bordesley Green skipped bail while detectives were investigating 19 fuel thefts at forecourts stretching from Solihull to Sandwell.

Hussain had been flagged as ‘wanted’ on national police systems so when he boarded a plane in New York it alerted officials. The second he stepped onto the tarmac he was arrested.

At his trial on April 27, Hussain admitted stealing petrol amounting to almost £350, two counts of handling stolen number plates and breaching police bail. He was jailed for a total of two years.

Investigating officer, PC Lee James, said: "People can be quite dismissive of fuel theft, believing it’s largely a victimless crime.

"However, the reality is these offences are often committed by people who’ve stolen number plates from other cars or even stolen vehicles – so offenders have a negative impact on the wider community and tend to be linked to other criminality.

"There are CCTV cameras in almost every petrol station now so offenders stand a good chance of being recognised and identified, plus of course we’ll have an excellent description of their vehicle. It’s a very risky business.

"The fact that Hussain has been sent to prison should act as a warning to anyone who thinks fuel theft isn’t deemed serious by the courts."