Police aim to shame petrol stations into doing more to tackle fuel theft

Police aim to shame petrol stations into doing more to tackle fuel theft

Police park a van near Morrisons petrol station to raise awareness of bilking. Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT (8821698)

Police park a van near Morrisons petrol station to raise awareness of bilking. Picture:SARAH CALDECOTT (8821833)

First published in News

A HIGHLY visible scheme to shame petrol retailers into doing more to tackle the growing problem of fuel theft across the region has been launched at a major supermarket.

A Durham Police squad van bearing signs saying “Criminals are stealing from this garage. . . you’re paying for their fuel” was left close to the Morrisons petrol station at North Road in Darlington earlier today (Thursday).

The supermarket has been identified as one of four ‘hot spots’ for fuel thefts in County Durham and officers hope that by making a visible statement they will encourage the company to take the issue more seriously.

Detective Superintendent Kevin Weir said the force had dealt with more than 500 incidents of fuel theft in recent months, many of which involved wider criminality including thefts of vehicles and number plates.

The force believes introducing pre-payment at filling stations would tackle the problem but the idea was rejected by Morrisons who said pre-payment was unpopular and inefficient for customers.

Det Supt Weir said most garages in County Durham and Darlington were signed up to the Forecourt Watch scheme but that some garages needed to work more closely with police.

He said: “Some of the incidents are people driving off after filling the vehicle and others are people claiming they’ve forgotten their purse.

“There is a knock on effect to fuel theft – some are stolen cars and they go on to commit further crimes around the region, all on a stolen tank of petrol.

“All that could be stopped by the garage have pre-pay pumps and that’s what we are trying to say.

“Morrisons know we are trying to engage with them to start a conversation and renegotiate with them about how to reduce these incidents.

“We are not saying every garage should have pre-payment but those with serious problems should be looking at it. Pre-payment is widespread in Europe and America and they don’t have these problems with fuel theft.”

In response, Morrisons director of retail petrol, Mark Todd said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers appreciate the opportunity to fill their vehicles as soon as they arrive at the pump and only pay for what they dispensed.

“Pre-payment is not only unpopular, but also inefficient for the customer. We keep an eye on the issue, but have no plans to introduce the system at present.”

Comments (5)

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6:45pm Thu 31 Jul 14

stevegg says...

“Pre-payment is not only unpopular, but also inefficient for the customer. We keep an eye on the issue, but have no plans to introduce the system at present.”
Then dont call the police when a drive off occurs as Morrisons is compounding the problem! Funny how how they dont want to reduce this crime but want the police (who have far bigger criminals to catch) to waste valuable resources sortring a problem they should be addressing. Having been to the USA and all over Europe I can confirm that pre payment is the norm and it works.
“Pre-payment is not only unpopular, but also inefficient for the customer. We keep an eye on the issue, but have no plans to introduce the system at present.” Then dont call the police when a drive off occurs as Morrisons is compounding the problem! Funny how how they dont want to reduce this crime but want the police (who have far bigger criminals to catch) to waste valuable resources sortring a problem they should be addressing. Having been to the USA and all over Europe I can confirm that pre payment is the norm and it works. stevegg
  • Score: 5

7:25pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Mackam says...

What is criminal is the amount of tax we have to pay on fuel!!
What is criminal is the amount of tax we have to pay on fuel!! Mackam
  • Score: 5

8:00pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Risk555 says...

Wonder how many indicents are down to that fantasic community in Darlington who have no respect for other peoples rules, laws & ways of life.
Wonder how many indicents are down to that fantasic community in Darlington who have no respect for other peoples rules, laws & ways of life. Risk555
  • Score: 6

7:06am Fri 1 Aug 14

Homshaw1 says...

You can't get out of multi story car park without paying. How hard is it?

No purse. Park your car in the corner and go and get it or phone for help
You can't get out of multi story car park without paying. How hard is it? No purse. Park your car in the corner and go and get it or phone for help Homshaw1
  • Score: 3

8:47am Fri 1 Aug 14

Homshaw1 says...

Not sure about the tactics employed by the police. If cars parked outside the police station with signs suggesting how the police could do better there would be constant traffic jams around the ring road.
Not sure about the tactics employed by the police. If cars parked outside the police station with signs suggesting how the police could do better there would be constant traffic jams around the ring road. Homshaw1
  • Score: 1

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