Government plan to drive off fuel theft

Employing extra staff to pump petrol into customer cars may be the answer to stopping petrol theft.

The State Government launched an inquiry this week in response to a growing number of petrol theft from stations across Victoria, however a Morwell small service station owner said he might have the answer to the problem.

Police Minister Wade Noonan announced on Wednesday the Law Reform, Road and Community Safety Committee would examine how to reduce the incidence of petrol drive-offs and would find ways for service station operators to recover their losses.

Required to report back to Parliament before 7 December, the committee will investigate the extent of the problem and its cost to the industry, how other jurisdictions here and overseas prevent fuel drive-offs including regulations, education and technology, possible links between petrol drive-offs and crime such as car and number-plate theft and existing and potential civil and criminal remedies.

Euroka Shell Service Station Morwell owner Ross Handson said he did not have the problem and believed it would be much more common in self-serve petrol stations.

Mr Handson offers a driveway service to his customer’s cars, which he believes is a major deterrent.

“Because we do it, we don’t have a problem with drive-offs, we just do it because we’ve done it for years,” Mr Handson said.

“I think I’ve had one in the last 10 or 15 years. A bigger thing for us is credit cards not working.

“You get all their details and sometimes you get goods to the same value to make them come back.”

Mr Handson said he knew bigger 24-hour service stations were faced with the problem on a more regular basis.

“I do know in the city on the big self-service places it is a problem,” Mr Handson said.

“Some of the places are so damn big the poor bugger on the cash register can’t see the car on the other side.”