BRACKNELL police are urging a petrol thief to stop endangering his life and the lives of others by using "risky" syphoning tactics.

The offender has cut the fuel lines on at least 12 vehicles in the past month - and police say the danger of the spilt fuel bursting into flames 'doesn't bear thinking about'.

Detective Inspector Mike Squires, leading the investigation, told The News: "We're concerned about the danger aspects of it - this isn't just a theft.

"Someone could light up a cigarette and the whole thing might go up in flames - it doesn't bear thinking about."

Two of the thefts took place within 24 hours of one another, both occurring last Wednesday (November 7).

DI Squires added: "I want to appeal to the offender, to think about the risk he's posing to himself and to other people. I would ask him to think about the consequences of his actions."

He said the thief could cause "massive" problems for young children, mothers and all other unsuspecting drivers.

"The person who's doing this doesn't know how much fuel is in the car when he cuts the line," he explained. "So if his can is already half full and 40 litres comes out then it'll end up all over the floor."

Det Insp Squires and deputy police commander for Bracknell Forest, Inspector Jon Goosey, both voiced concerns about the dangers of fires as a result of the thefts and explained that drivers not only need to be "aware" that a spate of fuel thefts is happening, but also to check for puddles of fuel underneath their cars.

It is believed that the fuel thief is collecting the fuel in a domestic red jerry can, which can be easily obtained from hardware or car maintenance stores.

Insp Goosey added: "It's happening every day at the moment and trying to capture someone is very difficult.

"We need everyone to let us know if they see someone walking about with a jerry can. They need to phone us."

People with information or who have witnessed someone filling up their tank using a jerry can should contact DI Squires on 101 or, to remain anonymous, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.