With the sharp increase price of petrol at Australian and New Zealand pumps over the last year, there has been an increase in fuel theft or Drive-offs.
Petrol station owners have blamed the rising petrol prices for the increasing numbers of motorists taking off and not paying for their petrol.
In some cases, thieves steal petrol from the same place a multiple amount of times, believing that they can keep getting away with it.
According to Signature Security Group , one solution to minimising petrol theft at the pump is to introduce or upgrade security at Service Stations with suitable CCTV surveillance to deter and capture footage of these offenders to help bring them to justice.
Paul Andronicou, who is owner of the Fast Fuel service station in Mount Evelyn in Melbourne's outer east, said “ there was no doubt petrol theft was on the rise since prices had started to climb. We have had an increase in drive-offs but more so the recidivists, the guys who constantly go out thieving petrol."
Andronicou told The Sunday Age."They'll hit our place one week, hit somebody else's place the next and then come back three weeks later and try it again.”
Andronicou said “one woman recently filled up before driving off without paying, not realising her 12-year-old brother had hopped out of the car to go to the toilet."
The police had rolled up before she decided she better come back to pick up her brother. Her excuse was she realised she didn't have enough money to pay so she just decided to drive off. “I speak to a lot of operators in the industry and everyone says the problem is increasing across the board” exclaimed Mr Andronicou."
The thing that hurts us is that the dollar value of the thefts is getting bigger. They are not just stealing $50 worth of fuel any more, but $70 or $80 worth."
Service stations work on an average profit of 3cents a litre so Drive-offs were really hurting business.
Failure to pay and credit card fraud had increased by a significant number in the past 2 years. There were 8162 incidents of this in 2003-04, then a staggering 9651 incidents in 2004-05. This is a total rise of 18.2% and is going to get worse if something doesn’t happen soon and quickly.
The soaring price at the pumps has lead to a substantial jump in thefts in NSW. A quarterly figure from the NSW shows falls in 8 of the 16 major offence categories (which include; armed robbery, break and enter etc). However fraud grew an astonishing 8.4%, largely due to an increase in motorists who filled up their tanks and speed away without paying.
The majority of this Drive-offs occurred during the hours between 6pm and 9pm where it is usually dark.
CCTV cameras are installed that can handle dim light as well have Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) technology to effectively survey the forecourt and zoom in for license plate recognition.
Not only do cameras act as a deterrent for would be offenders but easily identifiable footage can greatly help police identify and convict these criminals.