Police patrolling the roads in Nottinghamshire caught thieves red-handed after pulling into a layby and finding lorry trailers with their curtains slashed.
Four men aged between 19 and 24 were arrested after their car was searched and items including gloves, an angle grinder and a metal wrench were recovered.
Officers said they entered the layby off the southbound carriageway of the A1 just before the exit for the A620 after midnight on 14 December.
They spotted three HGVs parked up for the night before two people emerged and ran from behind one of the lorries.
PC Lyndon Brown from Nottinghamshire Police said: “These arrests are testament to the officers’ beady eyes and quick action when they saw the lorries and their intuition was telling them something wasn’t right.
“After their hard work and covering many miles, these lorry drivers will have simply wanted to settle down for the evening and get some rest without having to worry that their vehicles might be damaged or fuel might be stolen.
“It is unacceptable that certain individuals feel they can take advantage of this and brazenly attempt to steal during this time.”
He added: “Fuel thefts in particular have a huge impact on lorry drivers and can even ground them and prevent them from doing their work and earning a living.”