The rising price of fuel has led to a rise in thieves targeting rural property supplies across Hawke's Bay - the latest an incident where two men were caught red-handed with more than 1000 litres of fuel stolen from several properties in the Swamp Rd area.
Police received a call last Friday night from a member of the public who saw two men acting suspiciously in Swamp Rd.
A patrol quickly moved into the area and the officers uncovered what was described as a "store" of collected stolen fuel, in 20-litre containers.
The officers continued to patrol through the area and came across the two men in a vehicle and after checking it out discovered about 500 litres of fuel stored inside.
A police spokesperson said initial investigations revealed the fuel had been stolen from properties in Swamp Rd, Dartmoor Rd and Taihape Rd - much of it drained from tractors and other farm machinery.
The pair had allegedly stored containers of fuel on several different properties, for collection later.
A tally-up showed about 1000 litres all up, and almost all of it had been recovered and returned to the rightful owners.
Two Hastings men, aged 19 and 38, were arrested and were facing charges of burglary and theft.
The incident led to a "be vigilant" warning from Hawke's Bay Police Tactical Response Manager Inspector Andy Sloane for rural residents to ensure their fuel supplies were secure, and to report any suspicious behaviour.
"We believe the two men had done a number of 'reccies' in the area during the day before they stole the fuel. Local residents may have seen the pair driving around, going up driveways or on properties. We continue to urge people to ring us if they see anything untoward in their area. That includes any strangers or vehicles that are not known to you or do not belong in the area," Mr Sloane said.
Rural areas of Dannevirke had been struck badly late last year, with thieves targeting tractors and bulldozers - some parked openly on the side of roads.
Hastings business East Coast Scrap and Hawke's Bay Recyclers also went through a spate of fuel thefts last year with thieves cutting fuel lines to machinery and draining the fuel into cans. About $5000 had been taken over a two-to-three-month period.