Marissa Georgopoulos, 26 October 2015

POLICE and local petrol stations are banding together to tackle the ongoing issue of fuel theft, as people continue to fill up their cars and drive off without paying.

St Marys police reported the crime rate had climbed in the area and neighbouring suburbs and said they were taking further steps to stop the thieves.

“It usually fluctuates month to month, however, in the last six month it has seen an increase of 25 to 30 per cent,” said Inspector Brad Element.

May and June this year saw a combined 101 incidents of fuel theft in the Penrith area, figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime and Research showed. The numbers averaged out to at least once a day.

February had the least amount of Penrith offences reported by police, but it was still a high 26.

Service stations have been asked to report petrol theft in a faxed form to police since 2013, which is something United Petroleum Londonderry manager, Joseph Benjamin, is familiar with.

“It is happening too much, it’s every week and three or four times; we have had big problems at this station,” Mr Benjamin said.

Located at a major intersection, the building is home to the petrol station and a takeaway food shop.

Mr Benjamin said improved security cameras had been installed at the site between eight months to a year ago, which had helped.

“We lose around $600 to $700 a week in (fuel) theft and before the cameras it was about $2000 a week,” he said.

In many cases, petrol prowlers use stolen number plates or cars, making it more difficult to track them down.

“One drive off is big news … it’s destroying business,” Mr Benjamin said, adding the money came out of the pocket of the independent business.

“We have 16 or 17 people working here and we have all these drive-offs which (adds up to) one extra person working here.”

The petrol station regularly sends incident forms to local police who take the matter further, the manager said.

“They look after the cases but every day more cases are coming in and that’s the problem.”

St Marys police said they would continue to work with petrol stations to track down those responsible and to brainstorm strategies to reduce the likelihood of events.

 

Mr Benjamin said the type of people who stole petrol varied

On one occasion, a male who planned to fill up and drive off was stopped by a person at another bowser, who was run over by the driver and had to be taken to hospital

An elderly lady is said to visit the petrol station each week, fills $70 to $80 in fuel and leaves without paying

A number of males believed to be in their late 20s to early 30s stole fuel regularly in new and expensive cars and utes

Extracted in full from The Daily Telegraph.

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