Hayley Sorensen, 12 February 2016

FED up with constant petrol thefts eating into their bottom line, the owners of one Top End store have taken to posting pictures of offenders to ­social media and letting shame do the rest.

Virginia Store owner Leah Sloan said public pressure was the only way she and husband Ian had found to get thieves to pay their bills. Vehicles used were often unregistered or bearing stolen plates, making it difficult to track down culprits.

A family member of one offender contacted Mrs Sloan after she shared a CCTV still of the thief on Facebook.

“The post had been shared on one of the community pages and ended up being seen by 20,000 people. She had so many people hounding her, she came in the next day and paid,” she said.

Mrs Sloan estimated petrol drive-offs happened about twice a week and said the problem was worsening.

“We never get that money back. We have to carry that loss because we’ve got no way of recouping it,” she said.

It was a big impost for a family-owned business.

“If you’re talking a double- tank diesel vehicle which does happen, that’s a $190 fuel bill we’re copping,” Mrs Sloan said.

“That’s a lot of Mars Bars and packets of chips.”

A smash-and-grab break-in last October saw thieves make off with cash floats, cigarettes and alcohol, leaving the Sloans short several thousand dollars.

Three weeks ago, a man stole two bottles of spirits by picking them up and running out of the store.

Mrs Sloan said while small thefts quickly added up, it was difficult for them to pursue individual incidents.

“To take it to court and have to have staff attend it would end up costing us four times what they’ve driven off with,” she said.

Extracted in full from the NT News.