Thousands of fuel thieves ignore ‘benefit of the doubt’ text from police

Thousands of Queensland “fuel thieves” have ignored texts from police who give motorists the benefit of the doubt and urge them to return to pay for their petrol.

In October, the Queensland Police Service began sending text messages asking drivers who leave without paying for fuel to go back to the service station.

Figures obtained by Brisbane Times revealed that 2533, or more than half, of texts sent by police were ignored.

Of the 4723 messages sent, 2190 people went back to the station to pay for their fuel.

The trial, which was initially meant to run for one month, will continue into 2020.

In the 2018-19 financial year, police received about 27,800 incident reports of motorists driving off without paying for petrol – about 76 per day on average.

Failing to pay for fuel was a crime, acting Superintendent Sharee Cumming said.

“This can happen for various reasons including being distracted at the pump and then forgetting to pay before driving away,” she said when the trial was launched.

“The trial is designed to encourage people involved in a fuel drive-off, either inadvertently or on purpose, to pay for their fuel, [and] will reduce the need of our frontline officers to commence investigations into these type of matters, in the first instance.”

Police identify themselves in the messages, which also contain the registration number of the vehicle involved, the date and time of the incident, and a prompt to contact the service station.

Correction: Due to an error in information provided by the Queensland Police Service, an earlier version of this story said 7723 text messages had been sent.


Extracted from Brisbane Times

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