PETROL theft has tripled in the two years since Victoria Police stopped investigating incidents unless they involved a stolen car or numberplates.

The average value of fuel stolen from every petrol station in the state has risen from $220 per site per month in 2013 to $600 per site per month this year.

Police changed its fuel drive-off policy in June 2013, refusing to investigate reports unless it involved another crime.

The policy has been slammed in submissions to Parliament’s inquiry into fuel drive-offs.

The Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association said the average cost had tripled over the past two years, from $2640 per petrol station per year to $7200.

“ACAPMA believes that the State Government’s approach to fuel theft is not working and has inadvertently resulted in a threefold increase in the incidence of fuel drive-offs in Victoria since early 2013,” ACAPMA wrote.

A scathing submission from Geelong-based independent petrol retailers APCO said it had been a “very frustrating and disappointing” two years.

“The Drive Off Policy was introduced by police hierarchy and the previous Liberal Government to be used as a smokescreen to reduce crime statistics … not crime itself. The policy encourages crime.”

It warned petrol station staff were left to try and stop thieves themselves because even when reports of a suspected crime were lodged police did not show up to investigate.

“Some of our franchise owners have been assaulted, almost run down by fleeing offenders, and we are aware of a dangerous situation resulting in damage to petrol pumps on a site.”

Photos of thieves caught on security cameras have been posted on boards in the driveway of APCO stations in Cranbourne and rewards have been offered to try and catch thieves.

7-Eleven Fuel said its 150 fuel outlets lost $1.04 million in the last financial year from fuel theft.

The Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee will issue its report before 7 December.

Extracted in full from:  heraldsun.com.au