Rises fuel 'drive-off' fears

BP Autoworld in Oamaru. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
BP Autoworld in Oamaru. Photo: Daniel Birchfield
Oamaru police have concerns about the potential for a rise in the number of petrol thefts in the town if the price of fuel keeps climbing.

At 6.20am on Wednesday, a man allegedly stole fuel from BP Autoworld on State Highway 1 in South Oamaru after he put petrol in his car and left without paying.

Police are scouring CCTV footage in the hope of tracking down the alleged offender, who was driving a vehicle with an altered number plate on the back and no number plate on the front.

The incident followed a report of two full fuel cans being stolen from a Ure St address between May 27 and 29.

Sergeant Tony Woodbridge, of Oamaru, said evidence suggested the petrol theft at the BP station was a "planned act'' as the offender had gone to some lengths to alter his number plates.

He said police were concerned instances of fuel thefts would increase as prices rose.

"We would imagine with rising petrol prices this sort of thing is going to happen more often, so people need to be more aware of the security of their property and vehicles.''

Neville Bond, of BP Autoworld, said he was concerned petrol drive-offs could happen more frequently if fuel prices kept rising. If necessary, the station could set up a system so people had to pay before they filled up.

BP Oamaru manager Steve Rawson said while petrol drive-offs did happen at the station, which had CCTV and number plate recognition technology, a bigger problem was people not having the funds to pay for fuel at the counter.

"The last three weeks we have had one a week,'' he said.

A spokeswoman for Z Energy, Georgina Ball, said the company did not foresee more thefts.

"We don't anticipate an increase in drive-offs. There's no evidence to show intentional drive-offs are or have been impacted by previous price changes.

"We reckon the majority of our customers are honest and [we] have no reason to believe this would change. Also many drive-offs are accidental - like where someone forgets to pay or leaves their wallet at home.''



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