Jimmy Rugari makes money when he’s asleep through prepaid fuel pumps, and his old-fashioned customer service keeps him from falling victim to petrol thefts.

The Silver’s Auto Centre owner says the after-hours system allows him to operate around the clock with minimal chance for theft unlike the other service stations across South Australia reporting an increase in fuel drive-off.

He is one of the only service stations where workers pump the fuel into customers’ cars, which Mr Rugari said reduced the likelihood of thefts.

“This machine makes me money while I’m sleeping,” he said, pointing to the pay station.

He has not had a single theft in the past 12 months.

It comes amid a 6.3 per cent increase in the number of fuel drive-offs across the state, sparking a renewed push by Commissioner Grant Stevens for more outlets to adopt prepaid systems.

There were 8967 petrol theft incidents that met the criteria for investigation – an increase of 6.3 per cent or 535 offences – over the previous year’s figure of 8432 incidents.

The Costco fuel station, in Adelaide’s western suburbs, is understood to be the only outlet to not experience a petrol drive-off theft.

“We’ve been working with the retail fuel industry for over a decade now looking at ways to prevent petrol theft,” Mr Stevens said.

“The reality is, and this is evidenced by the conduct of one particular retail outlet in South Australia, that fuel theft could be stopped overnight by the introduction of prepaid fuel.

“There is no escaping that conclusion.

“We acknowledge that the industry have their reasons for wanting to maintain the current arrangements related to retail stores.”

Mr Rugari said prepaid stations were “not a bad idea” and had been successfully adopted in the United States.

“But the problem is (service stations) lose money in their shop,” he said.

“And I guess for how much drive-offs there are, I don’t think it will compensate for what they will lose in the shop.”

Motor Trade Association SA/NT chief executive Darrell Jacobs said service stations relied on customers “engaging with food, beverage and other convenience items in order to provide competitive fuel prices”.

“While prepaid bowsers can be deployed in limited circumstances, they can also impact consumers with tight budgets or non-compatible payment methods,” he said.

Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association secretary Josh Peak said wholly prepaid service stations would put “at risk the livelihoods” of thousands of South Australians

“The SDA strongly rejects the suggestion that petrol stations should be prepaid only,” Mr Peak said.

“Service stations have evolved drastically over the last 20 years and most now offer a full offering of products which has led to more South Australians than ever being employed in those sites.

“The suggestion to move the prepaid only, would send the sector and the employment opportunities back decades.”

The Advertiser previously revealed police will only investigate drive-offs if the theft also involves other serious crimes, such as armed robbery, a stolen car or is part of a “pattern”.

Extracted in full from:  https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/sa-fuel-driveoff-rates-soar-sparking-commissioner-grant-stevens-push-for-prepaid-bowsers/news-story/506dd2cfff7c3f2221fb2b0e215345e9

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