Alesha Capone, 12 March 2016

BRIMBANK has recorded the highest rate of fuel drive-offs in the state with 4035 over a 10-year-period.

A report from the Law, Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee released in state parliament on Thursday revealed petrol drive-off thieves were costing the industry an estimated $20 million per year.

Between 2005-2014 there were more than 34,000 drive-offs committed across Victoria.

While Brimbank topped the list, the Casey municipality was next worst hit with 3190 drive-offs and Hume third with 2480 drive-offs.

The report into fuel drive-offs found such incidents impacted most upon small and medium-sized businesses.

The report said the State Government, police, service stations and Crime Stoppers should band together to launch a public education campaign about drive-offs.

In July last year (2015) Leader revealed Ardeer experienced the highest rate of petrol drive-offs out of all Brimbank’s suburbs, recording 569 between 2010-2015.

The area covered by the 3021 postcode — St Albans, Kings Park, Kealba and Albanvale — recorded 437 fuel drive-offs.

In comparison, there were only eight drive-offs in Derrimut and 11 in Keilor Park.

The owner of United Petroleum in Deer Park, Vishram Patel, said petrol thefts occurred “all the time”.

He said the frequency could vary from three thefts within one day to none in two weeks.

Mr Patel said it would be useful if fuel outlets could be supplied with a list or database of numberplates, belonging to vehicles which had committed petrol drive-offs in the past.

“But often they are doing it with stolen numberplates, so it can be very hard,” he said.

Mr Patel said service stations were impacted by fuel thefts, which was unfair on small business owners.

“Also, if it’s a legitimate drive-off, you have to go to court — and for $20 or $30 worth of a petrol drive-off, it’s not worth paying hundreds of dollars for a lawyer,” he said.

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.