DRIVERS have taken fuel from Wigan petrol stations more than 100 times in the last year without paying.
Figures realised by Greater Manchester Police reveal that in 2013/14, there were 117 petrol drive-offs across the borough – but only two people were formally charged, and another two were released with no further action.
A total of 27 investigations remain incomplete, where no suspect has been identified.
The force had no records of what has happened with the remainder of the 88 incidents.
But the number of petrol drive-off offences have fallen from a high of 337 in 2011/12, to 212 in 2012/13.
In 2011, 271 investigations came to a close after suspects could not be identified, compared with 206 in 2012 and 129 last year.
Over the last five years, 42 offenders have been charged or summonsed; 88 suspects have been identified but there has not been any evidence to prosecute; five adults have been cautioned; 22 have been taken into consideration but no action taken and 13 have undertook community resolution.
Over the last year, places which had been targeted by drive-offs include Tesco petrol stations in Crabtree Lane, Atherton; Cross Street, Hindley, Spinning Jenny Way, Leigh; The Extra store in Derby Street, Leigh; and the Express site in Bolton Road, Ashton.
Texaco stations in Corner Lane, and also Leigh Road, in Leigh; The Crossways garage, in East Lancashire Road, Lowton and Morrisons in Sale Way, in Leigh, also fell foul to motorists filling up and driving away.
Over the last five years, petrol stations belonging to Tesco have been affected the most, with a total of 16 drive-offs recorded.
Mark Thomas, spokesman for Tesco, said: “Like other petrol suppliers, we are sometimes the victim of crime when people do not pay for their fuel.
“We work closely with police at all our stores and petrol stations in Wigan and across the country and use monitoring technology to combat this activity.”
A Morrisons spokesman said: “We operate a zero tolerance to all forms of crime in our stores. We work closely with the local police to prevent drive-offs and identify those responsible.”