A PORTARLINGTON petrol station owner says his business is so crippled by fuel thefts he has been forced to make all customers pre-pay for fuel.

Tower Road service station operator Muhammad Farid said brazen thieves were robbing his petrol station of more than $300 of fuel a month.

Mr Farid’s decision, posted to his service station’s social media page, was made after a $172 drive-off this week.

“This is destroying my business and livelihood,” Mr Farid said.

“So after consulting with the community we think it’s in Portarlington’s best interest to introduce pre-pay fuel.

“We are sorry if this decision inconveniences anyone but we cannot sustain the business otherwise as these losses are coming from our pocket.”

It is understood the system will be implemented after further community consultation.

Director of eight Geelong and 26 Victorian APCO service stations Peter Anderson said some fuel stations were losing in excess of $1500 a month through petrol drive-offs.

Mr Anderson believes a 2016 parliamentary inquiry into the issue had yielded no positive outcomes for petrol station owners.

“(The rate of theft) seems to go up and down for no apparent reason. There has been attitude change which is positive,” Mr Anderson said.

“But the parliamentary inquiry was a total farce … which was extremely disappointing and showed no concern for small business.”

Victoria Police Assistant Commissioner Tess Walsh said: “We have continued to work with Government and the fuel industry to prevent further offending and crackdown on those who deliberately engage in fuel theft. We are in the final stages of reviewing our reporting and investigation policy”.

Police Minister Lisa Neville said Geelong police had initiated work to reduce fuel theft which was feeding into a broad police review.

“I have met with fuel retailers from Geelong and other parts of the state and have had co-ordinated meetings with them and members of Victoria Police,” Ms Neville said.

Australian Association of Convenience Stores executive director Jeff Rogut said tougher penalties and offence specific fines must be introduced to curb fuel theft.

“We want to see petrol theft listed as a crime,” Mr Rogut said.

Extracted from Geelong Advertiser