DRIVE OFFS: Theft of fuel is a growing concern in the Wide Bay region.
DRIVE OFFS: Theft of fuel is a growing concern in the Wide Bay region. Trevor Veale

Fuel thefts on the rise in the region

THE WIDE BAY region experiences an average of 1.28 fuel thefts a day at fuel stations.

Those are the shocking statistics that have come from Queensland police and RACQ after a recent report showed the region alone had already clocked up 317 fuel thefts from January to August this year.

This figure is set to surpass last years drive-off offence statistics of 466 for the year.

Shell Bundaberg East manager Ben Praksh said his petrol station experienced one drive-off a month.

"We lose, on average, about $40 each time,” he said.

"It is definitely frustrating. We are losing revenue when this happens.”

"People drive off because they don't want to pay for the fuel, they have a lack of good attitude and social responsibility and that affects our business.”

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith called on police to take a tougher stance on offenders caught stealing petrol.

"The shocking rate of run-offs across Queensland proves this is a serious and all-too-common crime - and it's clearly not going away,” Ms Smith said.

"With CCTV footage now available at many service stations, a database of offenders should be developed to help catch them and prevent further theft,” she said.

"We want to send a strong message to the community that this type of offence won't be tolerated, and if people commit these crimes they will get caught and prosecuted.”

Bundaberg police said were consequences for people who fill up and drive off without paying for fuel.

Senior Constable Danielle Loftus said it was important that drivers remembered to pay before driving away from fuel, gas, petrol or even a quick snack at service stations.

"A charge of stealing is likely to occur and consequences will depend on various circumstances,” she said.

Snr Const Loftus said business owners could report drive-offs by completing an online form and members of the public could also report the crime.

"Community members may assist police by identifying a person who may assist us with our inquiries,” she said.

"Images may appear on our myPolice Bundaberg blog.”

The fuel drive-off form is at www.police.qld.gov.au/online/On-Line-Reporting-and-Updates.htm

Members of the public who have information about fuel drive-off offences can phone Policelink on 131 444.

Ms Smith said there was no known link between drive-offs and petrol prices.

"High prices at the bowser don't turn law-abiding citizens into thieves,” she said.

"Those who are driving off without paying are more often than not involved in other criminal activity.”



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