Thieves left plastic barrels of siphoned diesel in the road after they fled from a Ripley building site.
Workers arrived at the site near the bridge on Coach Road, Butterley, at 6.45am on Tuesday to see two men flee.
Both men are white and in their 30s.
One man was described as scrawny, with short, scruffy hair, wearing glasses and carrying a rucksask
The other man wore a horizontally-striped black and white jumper.
Anyone with information is asked to call police on 101.