Police last night warned fuel thieves they could face jail after a Bradford man who converted two vehicles to carry 1,000 gallons of stolen fuel was locked up for eight months.

Ryan John-Lewis, 28, of Reevy Avenue, Buttershaw, was sentenced at Bradford Crown Court after he pleaded guilty to two counts of making off without payment at the end of a six-month investigation by Airedale and North Bradford Police’s vehicle crime team based in Keighley.

Officers in the team, which deals specifically with incidents of fuel theft, mounted Operation Kerryhill after spotting John-Lewis on CCTV fill up two vehicles with £130 of fuel at a time without paying as he travelled between petrol stations across West Yorkshire.

When he was arrested, detectives discovered he had fitted large containers capable of carrying about 1,000 gallons in fuel into a Ford Transit van and a Ford Focus.

PC Dennis McCoy, of Airedale and North Bradford CID, said: “He would travel from one petrol station to another, filling up the vehicles with £130, the most that can be taken from a fuel pump at a time.

“Making off from petrol stations without payment for fuel is a serious offence and this sentence sends out a message that if you steal fuel we will catch you and you will very likely go to jail.”

Det Sgt John Wolstencroft, who leads the team, said detectives had worked closely with a number of petrol stations and garages across the force area, as well as Neighbourhood Policing Team officers during the investigation.

He said the team had also held awareness days for the fitting of anti-theft registration plate screws because fuel thieves are often known to use stolen plates to make their vehicles harder to trace.

He also appealed to the public to play their part in bringing fuel thieves to the attention of the police.

“If you suspect anyone of stealing fuel from petrol stations, please contact the team on 101 or you can report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555111,” he said.