CRAIG Lowndes is one of the few people in Australia allowed to pull in for petrol and drive off at break-neck speed without paying – others who do this are criminals.
Just like the man who has ripped off a number of service stations across the region in the past three months.
The latest was The Caltex Appletree Creek Roadhouse on the Bruce Hwy yesterday morning.
The service station has been hit by the same man three times in the past seven weeks and business owner Darren Enslin has had enough.
“We have been waiting for him to come back,” Mr Enslin said.
“But unfortunately when he hit this time we had a shop full of customers. He put in his petrol and then jumped back in and took off.”
Mr Enslin said there was no insurance which covered drive-offs and his business had to absorb the sometimes extravagant costs.
“The thing is if they are caught by the police they are only expected to reimburse us for the cost of the fuel,” he said.
“Where the cost to us is a lot more. For what could be $30 worth of stolen fuel could cost us $100.
“We have to cover time for staff to go through CCTV footage and to burn it and this all takes time and costs money as well.”
The man is described to be aged between 55 – 65 years, Caucasian, 170cm in height with a grey goatee. He drives a blue coloured Mitsubishi Magna with the licence plate 574QJQ.
Childers police Sergeant Geoff Fay the man in question was wanted in relation to at least six petrol stealing offences which started in November.
Sgt Fay said they included Boundary St, Bundaberg on November 23, Takalvan St on December 21, the service station near the Bundaberg Airport and the Torbanlea service station and then the most recent yesterday.
He confirmed the crime took place about 7.15am and the driver was said to head in a northern direction.
Sgt Fay said the plates on the car were cancelled plates and it was a possibility the man had swapped them around and other crimes could have been committed but not linked to this one.
He said it was a big problem in the industry and whether it’s $10 or $100 there is a higher price.
“Everybody is paying for these crimes down the track,” Sgt Fay said.
“With the time and resources police have to use to locate them it is costly to everyone.
Mr Enslin said there were two types of petrol thefts and deliberate ones like yesterday morning are not always the only to happen.
“There’s the deliberate one and then there’s the ones where they come in to buy other goods and sometimes forget,” he said.
“Or if they are a couple and think the other person had paid for it.
“We have a good relationship with the Childers police and they often help to recover the fuel cost.”
Sgt Fay said it was important for people to check they pay for both food and petrol, or to make sure the attendant has charged the right amount.
“Even when people simply forget to pay for fuel and realise down the track but don’t go back to fix it up they are committing an offence.”
Anyone with information is advised to call Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 FREE.