Megan Bailey, 22 March 2016

THE CITY of Casey is the second worst local government area for fuel drive-offs in Melbourne, with at least 3190 reports of petrol drive offs in the past decade.

Last year the Berwick Leader spoke with a Berwick patrol station operator who said petrol drive-offs were happening every two days, costing between $70 and $90 each time.

APCO service stations in Cranbourne even set up “shame boards” to try and catch people caught stealing petrol on camera.

A petrol station worker in Narre Warren South who had been in the job 15 months said little had changed and he saw at least one drive off each day. He said most thefts were for larger tanks of fuel.

“I have never seen one less than $30,” he said.

A Berwick station worker said he only reported half of the three or four drive-offs that station saw each week to police. He agreed most drive offs cost $50 or more.

“(Police) are not that ­active in finding them and sometimes it’s quite easy to find them because … people may be always in this area, if they check the CCTV and we supply the CCTV to them,” he said.

“We report only half of the cases; if we do not get rego or do not get the number or the number is not clear we do not report it.

“We can lock (the bowser) if we suspect someone or if someone is acting strangely we ask them to prepay but some people look very normal and they have a nice modern car and they still drive off.”

Casey Crime Investigation Unit detective Senior Sergeant Rob Clark said police took petrol theft seriously but did not enforce civil debts, such as if someone forgot to pay.

He said police investigated where there was ‘evidence of criminality’ such as someone wearing clothing that attempted to hide their face or if someone was driving a car with stolen numberplates.

“It is an issue, we do get reports about petrol drive offs and we do investigate and take action to identify offenders,” he said.

“Sometimes people do just forget to pay for it.”

The Victorian Parliamentary ­Inquiry into fuel drive-offs, released this month, found Brimbank, Casey and Hume accounted for almost half of Victoria’s drive-offs and fuel theft cost retailers between $2.5 million and $20 million each year.

Most drive-offs are by men aged between 15 and 34.

Of the 2266 reported drive-offs between 2012 and 2014, men comprised 81 per cent of offenders.

About 80 per cent are unsolved and investigating drive-offs costs Victoria Police $3.3 million each year.

The inquiry recommended Victoria Police develop an online fuel drive off reporting form, that police investigate fuel drive offs where there is clear evidence a crime has been committed, and that retailers consider forming an group similar to the British Oil Security Syndicate that would work with the State Government, Crime Stoppers and agencies including Victoria Police and VicRoads.

Extracted in full from the Herald Sun.