Increase in number plate thefts reported in North Oxfordshire
There has been a three-fold increase in the number of number plates used to steal petrol at filling stations in North Oxfordshire.
Area Commander Supt Howard Stone, said the increase in number plate thefts was specifically down to the high cost of fuel.
Cars disguised with stolen plates fill up and then drive off without paying.
Jo Abbott from the RAC Foundation said it was a severe problem, particularly in the Thames Valley area.
She said its central location near the M40 probably meant that it was a target for criminals coming into the area.
Det Sgt Steve Birchall, who works in the Banbury area, said that the police have six high profile operations planned this year to combat plate thefts.
The police use an automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR) which immediately alerts them if stolen plates are captured on camera.
Mr Birchall said: "Tamper-proof plates shatter so they can't be used for anything else... no one can use your identity to commit another offence."