Police forces have revealed what the PRA has described as “a tsunami” of drive-offs in Bradford, while in north Wales there has been a sharp decline.

In Bradford, West Yorkshire Police figures obtained by the Telegraph & Argus show there were 4,736 recorded incidents of motorists making off from garages across the area between January 2010 and last November - with 4,466 or 94% unsolved.

Ninety-seven offences are subject to a charge or summons - two of which date back to January 2010 - while 79 cases were taken into consideration alongside other crimes.

Detective chief inspector Terry Long, of Bradford District Police, said: “Police in Bradford are aware of an increase in reports of make-offs without payment from petrol stations over the last nine months.

“This increase can be seen in all other crime types across the district and is largely as a result of recent changes to the way crimes are recorded.

“One of the difficulties in investigating this type of crime is the use of false registration plates, but where information is obtained about such vehicles, police act promptly to make sure they are taken off the road and their users are prosecuted.”

But PRA chairman Brian Madderson said: “Very few are actually solved and that is because the police have done very little to solve them. It is galling.

“Instead of a tidal wave, it is becoming a tsunami of theft. The culprits are beginning to believe that the police will not catch them, or not even try to catch them. They probably already believe that.”

However, a similar report on drive-offs in north Wales has found a sharp decline in incidents.

Following a Freedom of Information inquiry by the Leader newspaper group, North Wales Police revealed there had been 108 incidents since 2013 in Flintshire and Wrexham.

In that period just under £4,000 worth of fuel was stolen in Flintshire and the value of thefts reported in Wrexham was £2,257.74.

The highest number of incidents took place during 2013, where 52 incidents took place in Flintshire and 22 took place in Wrexham, but in 2015 up until December, there was just one incident in Flintshire and three in Wrexham.