With estimated losses of $10.4 million from fuel theft in Victoria alone drive offs are one of the prominent impediments to safe & secure business operations in the downstream petroleum industry.

As this week began, so too did the Parliamentary hearings for the Inquiry into Fuel Theft in Victoria. ACAPMA CEO Mark McKenzie was on hand to represent the views of members and the downstream petroleum industry to the committee.

‘Over the last two years, the average cost of fuel drive-offs across Victoria’s 1455 retail fuel outlets has almost tripled to an estimated $600 per site per month – a figure which is significantly higher than those states and territories where fuel theft is enforced by the Police’, Mark said.

‘While our industry accepts that the first priority of the Victorian Police is rightly to ensure that sufficient resources are allocated to more heinous forms of crime, transferring responsibility for enforcement of fuel theft to our industry is not the answer either, Mark said.

We note that a number of submissions made to the Victorian Fuel Drive-offs Inquiry have included calls for the industry to introduce pre-payment at the pump.

“This issue creates significant issues for our industry but it is also likely to inconvenience consumers with recent ACAPMA research showing that only 32% of fuel consumers use their credit card to pay for fuel purchases – the remainder use debit cards and cash that cannot be readily accommodated by most pre-pay systems”, said Mark.

Other suggestions included the installation of physical barriers which present significant challenges with respect to the safe management of the refuelling environment – both in terms of spark risk and ease of evacuation of the forecourt.

ACAPMA suggested to the Inquiry that Government should fund the installation of number plate recognition cameras on the forecourt of the state’s service station forecourts and introduce a traffic offence that would be managed by the same Police administration resources that manage speed camera and red light camera offences.

“We believe that this issue provides an effective deterrent to fuel theft, minimises the use of uniformed police resources and navigates the privacy and administrative issues associated with processing of offences by utilising existing Police systems and processes”, Mark said

The committee heard testimony from a number of stakeholders, among them ACAPMA members Peter and Robert Anderson from APCO Service Stations, who spoke to the committee about some of the operational realities of fuel drive offs and what service station operators such as themselves, and their franchisees, are doing to try and ‘name & shame’ offenders into paying.

They also raised concerns with the response from police to reports from services stations following a drive off, and the level of inconsistency in reporting practices between police branches on offences.

Committee hearings will continue over the coming month and the Committee is scheduled to hand down its report on 3 December 2015.

To view ACAPMA’s submission click here.