Servo 'drive-off' register on way
IPSWICH service station operators hope a new National Drive-off Register will help curb the growing problems of people stealing fuel.
Queensland Police statistics show the problem has escalated dramatically in Queensland in the past year, and Ipswich operators have copped their share.
North Ipswich Matilda Service Station owner Bob Kalra is one operator keen to sign up to the plan.
Mr Kalra said drive-offs and failure to pay offences, where customers filled their tanks before claiming they had no means of paying, had both been on the increase this year.
"It's really been a problem for us," Mr Kalra said.
"We have at least two a week here and it seems to be increasing.
"I just had a lady five minutes ago who filled up and then came in saying she had no money.
"These people say they'll come back and at least half of them never do."
Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association chief executive Nic Moulis, whose company has partnered with fuel watch website Motormouth to create the database, said it was time the problem was addressed.
"These crimes have an overwhelming effect on communities in terms of safety and cost, and impact greatly on resources of the petrol convenience industry and the police," Mr Moulis said.
"Our aim in telling criminals that drive-off crime will not be tolerated is to safeguard and protect the well-being of customers and staff.
"This program will start to tell criminals that drive-offs are something they will get caught doing; that they are being watched and reported."
Ipswich district police welcomed the move.
Insp Keith McDonald said gathering enough information to locate offenders could be difficult, so the database could provide valuable information.
"There has been an increase in drive-offs recently and in the end it's the motoring public that end up paying through higher prices at the bowser," he said.
"It's often difficult for operators to provide us with detailed information, so if this register can collate data it could be very useful in tracking down offenders."
All petrol station operators will be written to in coming weeks about joining the nationwide database.