Lexi Cottee, 14 September 2015

Petrol stations in Hume and Whittlesea suffer from some of the highest rates of fuel theft in metropolitan Melbourne.

Research conducted by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce reveals that three-quarters of fuel retailers in the state were victims of multiple petrol theft last year.

VACC executive director Geoff Gwilym said the results revealed that about a third of fuel thefts were not reported to police.

“Official government statistics show a declining trend of fuel theft when in fact one-third of all thefts are not reported by service station owners,” he said.

“The failure of police to take any action is discouraging many businesses from reporting all cases of fuel theft.”

He said the declining figures of reported thefts aligned with Victoria Police’s 2013 public change of policy to investigate only when there was clear evidence of criminality being involved, such as a stolen vehicle or number plates.

The VACC figures show the highest rate of fuel theft in Victoria was recorded in north and north-west suburbs.

Mark McKenzie, chief executive officer of the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association, said his organisation’s statistics revealed that fuel theft had increased from $220 for each station on a monthly basis to an estimated $600.

“That is a tripling in the cost of fuel theft in the past two years,” he said.

Lisa McLeary, financial controller for the Spargo Group, which owns a number of petrol stations across Melbourne including BP Keilor Park, said some of the Spargo stations were having as much as $1200 a month stolen.

“Sometimes they wave to the operator,” she said. At their Keilor Park station, 22 pictures of petrol thieves have been stuck on a wall behind the counter.

Mr McKenzie wants the state government to work with the industry to fund the installation of cameras at the state’s 1430 petrol stations.

He spoke last week at the parliamentary inquiry into fuel drive-offs.

The inquiry will report back to Parliament before December 7.

Extracted in full from the Star Weekly.