Petrol thieves will be targeted in a parliamentary inquiry to crack down on service station drive-offs in Victoria.

The Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee will investigate how to lower the number of brazen petrol drive-offs and ways for station operators to catch the criminals.

Australasian Association of Convenience Stores chief executive Jeff Rogut said the inquiry was a great move because petrol rip-offs were a major headache for store owners.

He said nationally, about $66 million was lost by retailers.

“On average, store owners are losing around $220 a week, from people driving off without paying for petrol,” he said.

“It comes straight off the bottom line, besides which there are safety issues.”

The inquiry was set up following increasing drive-offs in Victoria and concerns small business owners were bearing the brunt losing hundreds of dollars in cash each week.

Minister for Police, Wade Noonan said petrol drive-offs were a grave issue.

“This parliamentary inquiry demonstrates how seriously the Andrews Labor Government is taking this issue.’’

“Drivers who fill up then flee are potentially breaking the law and hurting small businesses.’’

“We want to know the best ways to reduce petrol drive-offs, and this inquiry will help us do that.’’

The review will reveal the full extent of the trend as well as look into what is being done in other countries to tackle the issue.

Petrol station owners and operators, and members of the public will be able to submit their concerns.

In February, Victoria police members revealed theft was so common people were regularly using stolen numberplates to hide their identity.

It was also alleged the losses was being deducted from staff pay in some cases.

On February 3, a worker from United Petroleum Lynbrook was injured when he was carried for 30m on the bonnet of a car during a petrol drive-off.

A report is expected by December 7.

Extracted in full from Herald Sun.