Petrol station drive offs ‘relatively rare’ say police
09:00 12 February 2014
Figures obtained by the Gazette show more than £1,300 in fuel reported stolen to police during 2013.
REPORTS of drivers leaving forecourts without paying for fuel are becoming ‘relatively rare’ across North Devon and Torridge, according to police.
A Freedom of Information Act request by the Gazette revealed there had been 26 incidents reported up until November 1 last year across the region.
Information released by Devon and Cornwall Police showed fuel thefts had amounted to £1,321 in 2013, compared to £1,523 over 27 incidents in 2012 and £1,498 over 29 incidents in 2011.
But Inspector Andy Brock, sector commander for Torridge, said often incidents were reported but turned out to not be crime-related.
He said: “Around half of those incidents each year are probably people who have left the forecourt, having forgotten to pay.
“They have then either come back red-faced to pay for the fuel, or are mortified to find out what they have done when a police officer knocks on their door.
“So that would average at about one criminal incident a month, and this is often related to serial offending such as people who have stolen cars.”
Inspector Brock said when such crimes did occur, it was normally during the busy summer season with many tourists visiting the area.
He added: “With technological advances, CCTV on forecourts and the ability for us to quickly identify car owners, these offences are very hard to commit and relatively rare.”