Petrol stations in Rotherham have been targeted 97 times in the last three months by fuel thieves filling up on forecourts then driving off without paying.
The offences were recorded in the first three months of this year, and South Yorkshire Police say the crime is becoming more common.
Officers in the town are now working with staff at filling stations to offer crime reduction advice.
They are also circulating details of known fuel thieves to other districts - passing on descriptions and details of the vehicles and number plates they tend to use.
A new automated number plate recognition system is being introduced across Rotherham to help officers track down vehicles as soon as they are involved in drive-offs.
And because offenders often use stolen or cloned number plates as a way of reducing the chances of detection, police are urging motorists to use tamper-proof screws to reduce the risk of their plates being stolen.
Insp Nick Gaskell said: “Fuel is a very expensive commodity in these difficult times, but anyone considering not paying for it could face prison.”
PC Andy Robinson, Rotherham’s Crime Reduction Officer, said: “If motorists are worried about offenders stealing their number plates, they can replace existing screws with clutch screws that are more difficult to remove, simple to fit, and available cheaply from most hardware stores.”