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By Chris Willmott 03/05 Updated: 11/05 12:31
A PETROL thief who drove away from West Midlands' forecourts owing hundreds of pounds was traced by police lying low in downtown New York.
Javid Hussain, from Bordesley Green, skipped bail whilst detectives investigated 19 fuel thefts at garages stretching from Solihull to Sandwell.
The 23-year-old left the country to live in New York for six months – but when he attempted to return on February 1 this year officers were waiting to arrest him as he stepped off the plane at Heathrow.
He admitted stealing petrol amounting to almost £350, two counts of handling stolen number plates, and breaching police bail.
And at Leamington Justice Centre on Friday (April 27) he was jailed for a total of two years.
Investigating officer, PC Lee James, said: "People can be quite dismissive of fuel theft, believing it's largely a victimless crime.
"However, the reality is these offences are often committed by people who've stolen number plates from other cars or even stolen vehicles – so offenders have a negative impact on the wider community and tend to be linked to other criminality.
"There are CCTV cameras in almost every petrol station now so offenders stand a good chance of being recognised and identified, plus of course we'll have an excellent description of their vehicle. It's a very risky business.
"The fact that Hussain has been sent to prison should act as a warning to anyone who thinks fuel theft isn't deemed serious by the courts."
Hussain was arrested on May 30 last year at a Shell petrol station in Lichfield Road, Warwickshire, shortly after filling up his silver BMW and driving off.
Police searches on the vehicle showed the number plate as reported stolen, whilst a second stolen plate was found hidden in the boot. Both were linked to 'bilking' offences across the region.
Detectives bailed him pending further inquiries into 19 petrol thefts totalling more than £1,200 – but whilst on bail he fled the country on a trans-Atlantic flight.
PC James, added: "Hussain was flagged as wanted on national police systems so when he boarded a plane in New York it alerted officials. The second he stepped onto the tarmac he was arrested."
Hussain eventually pleaded guilty to petrol thefts in Warwick Road, Olton (£62); Great Bridge Street, West Bromwich (£70.34); Stratford Road, Shirley (£65.05); High Street, Solihull Lodge (£76.38); Hobs Moat Road, Solihull (£22.02) and Chester Road, Chelmsley Wood (£42.75).
The offences occurred between March 27 and May 28 in 2011.
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