Police are appealing for information about the theft of 3,300 litres of diesel from the GL Clarke petrol station on Spilsby Road, Horncastle, Lincolnshire, on Tuesday January 10.

Owner Richard Clarke said the criminals were so professional that they left no trace and that it was not until the tank ran out unexpectedly two days later that they checked their CCTV and the theft was discovered.

The theft took place at 10pm on the Tuesday evening and took about one hour and 20 minutes. The thieves broke the lock on the gate and on the tank, and the CCTV showed that two or three men were involved and were using a long wheelbase van.

He said: “Several customers have told me about thefts of diesel from their cars, but these were clearly professionals because they would have needed a fair bit of equipment. The tanks are five feet down.”

He added that the police had been very helpful, and had studied CCTV from Laurels Service Station across the road and from cameras in the town in addition to Clarke’s footage. However, although they had identified several vans there were no firm leads.

Clarke said the loss from the theft was covered by insurance, but it would mean insurance premiums would now rise, and with the low margins on diesel the business was barely making any profit on its sales.

Police are appealing for any witnesses who may have seen suspicious vehicles or activity in the area.