Petrol theft is rising as fuel prices soar

THE number of incidents involving motorists stealing petrol off garage forecourts has risen across North Somerset, police have revealed.

Fraud and forgery offences have increased year-on-year by 57.3 per cent increase across the region, with police attributing the jump to people filling their vehicles up at petrol stations and driving off without paying.

The number of fraud and forgery offences has risen from 246 to 387 between April 2011 and February 2012 against the same period in 2010-11.

It is not classed as theft, but fraud, because the driver is deceiving the station owner into thinking he or she will pay.

North Somerset District Police Superintendent Julian Moss said: “With the price of fuel it is not surprising people are looking to take advantage.

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“My call is to retailers as they have a responsibility to reduce crime and cut their losses as well. I would advocate that pre-payment at the pumps would stop the problem entirely.”

Kevin Bellamy, site manager at Gordano services near junction 19 of the M5, said: “It is a constant problem and it’s not an easy thing to stop.

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“Even with CCTV, some people are very clever and use fake plates. I think the police are caught between a rock and a hard place because of how clever some people are.

“I was very grateful to them for the car they parked near the forecourt at the end of last year, which really worked, but I do feel the police have other priorities and the onus is thrown back to the retailer.”

He said there are currently no plans to install pre-payment pumps at the station, but that it is something which could be considered in future.

However, he said cost issues as well as the impact on the business, such as a drop in customers entering the service’s stores, would need to be considered.

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