Fuel outlets at wit’s end as Geelong police link rise in plates pinched to fuel costs
By Sourced Externally
July 12, 2022
A recent rise in the number of vehicle number plate thefts may be linked to the spiralling cost of fuel, police say.
Acting Sergeant Owen Spackman, from Geelong Crime Scene Services, said reported incidences of number plates being stolen have increased of late.
The plates were “often used on other vehicles during the commission of other crimes; (and) is likely to be due in part to rising petrol prices”, he said.
Victoria Police is using these new automated number plate recognition cameras in its vehicles. Picture: David Caird
APCO service station director Peter Anderson said the situation was “going to continue to get worse” as petrol prices were expected to increase.
“I have a debt collector now, collating all the photographs of the stolen number plates and some of these people are well known to police,” Mr Anderson said.
“We are providing all this evidence to the debt collector and he will be knocking on people’s doors.
Geelong number plate thefts, year ending March ’22
Data is 12 months to March each year
“I don’t even bother contacting Victoria Police in some cases anymore … anybody with number plates matching their car thinking they got away with petrol theft will have a surprise when there is a black line against their credit.”
A Victorian Automotive Chamber of Commerce report shows more than 50 per cent of fuel theft involves stolen number plates.
The Crime Statics Agency (CSA) reported there had been a 37 per cent increase in number plate thefts across Victoria last year and the Greater Geelong region was the fourth most affected local government area.
Surprisingly, the most recent data available shows a small drop in this type of offending.
In the year to March 2022, the region recorded 562 incidents of number plate theft, down from the 588 incidents in 2021, and 803 incidents in 2020.
Despite the decrease, experts say petrol prices will continue to be a major stress for people as the cost of living rises.
Mr Anderson said he was just one of many retailers who were now taking matters into their own hands, after becoming fed up with the justice system.
“The government needs to get serious, the Police Minister needs to get serious. If you use stolen number plates the car should be automatically seized,” he said.
“Once you pick up the nozzle at a self-serve petrol station you have made an agreement to pay the bill; that is a fact in law, but the Police Commissioner a number of years ago did not agree with that. They say it is a civil matter.”
END TO FEDERAL EXCISE FREEZE TO BRING PRICE SHOCK
Geelong fuel prices have continued their steady climb over the past few weeks as Melbourne hits record highs.
RACV spokeswoman Eleanor Colonico said the price had risen from an average of 198.4 cents per litre on June 19, to 208.3 cents per litre last Sunday, but future rises were difficult to predict.
“The trend for Geelong fuel prices over the coming weeks will depend on a range of factors, such as levels of competition in different suburbs, wholesale prices and taxes, and other factors,” she said.
“At this stage it is difficult to predict.”
Fuel prices will only get more expensive when the freeze on the federal excise is lifted. Picture: NCA NewsWire
Online fuel comparison tool Petrol Spy showed cheap deals on Wednesday morning at Woolworths Ampol in Geelong North, 7-Eleven outlets in South and East Geelong, and APCO outlets across the city.
United Corio North and Metro Corio also dropped prices to 198.9c/l.
Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers this week told media the freeze on the fuel excise was likely to end in September, and that the temporary fuel-price relief introduced by the previous government would end.
“We have the same view on this that we’ve expressed on both sides of the election,” he said.
“It would be incredibly hard to be able to afford to continue some of this cost-of-living relief, this specific relief, indefinitely.
“Obviously, we factor in the conditions as they evolve, and the Budget and all of the rest of it. But nothing has substantially changed to make me think that we could continue that indefinitely, or even for a substantially longer period than September.”