Bowser bandits, watch out. A team of Werribee-based police officers is dedicated to cracking down on thieves who commit petrol drive-offs in Wyndham.

Sergeant Brett Van Der Vliet said the Wyndham Petrol Drive-off Team was taking a tough approach towards motorists who filled their vehicles with petrol without paying.

“At the moment, we have over 60 fuel thefts reported a month, so an average of around two a day,” he said.

He said team members had met the owners and staff from all of Wyndham’s 45 service stations.

Sergeant Van Der Vliet said that he and other members of the team, including Leading Senior Constable Nathan Warrick, had given the owners and their employees advice about reporting fuel drive-offs, including the importance of reporting incidents as soon as possible and having CCTV.

“The Wyndham Petrol Drive-off Team was established in November last year and we had gone around to all the service stations by mid-December,” Sergeant Van Der Vliet said.

“Since then, the reporting of thefts has increased and the information they have been providing has increased as well.”

Sergeant Van Der Vliet said members of the team were using CCTV footage from petrol stations to create a database of registration plate details of vehicles involved in Wyndham fuel thefts.

“We then get in contact with these drivers, whether they commit one theft or multiple thefts,” he said.

“We’ve had quite a few arrests and we have tended to go after the offenders with the more substantial number of petrol thefts first – there was one person who had around 10 to 15 drive-offs to their name.”

Sergeant Van Der Vliet said that the team was focusing on offenders who had committed between one to five drive-offs, as indicated by CCTV footage from petrol stations.

He said that while petrol drive-offs occurred across Wyndham, reports of them were particularly high in an area near the corner of Leakes and Fitzgerald roads in Laverton North.

Extracted from Star Weekly News