Victoria Police to treat all fuel theft cases as crimes

ALL would-be petrol thieves will now think twice before they steal from the bowser.

Last week Victoria Police reversed a long-held policy position of not acting on some reports of theft.

Certain cases of petrol theft used to be considered civil matters, but now all cases will be treated as actual crimes.

Police must now follow up all reported instances of fuel theft and lodge incidents into their official databases.

Horsham Acting Sergeant Steve Gray said the policy change was a step in the right direction.

“It used to depend on the individual incident; for instance a failure to pay would be considered a civil matter,” he said.

“Now all matters will be reported to police and police will follow them all up.

“It’s going to be a great way to deter people for stealing petrol. This will be an ongoing issue and we’ll have to look at different ways that we can prevent this from happening.

”You never know, down the track we might have to go pre-paid like they have in the US.”

He said police were alerted to numerous incidents of petrol theft each week.

“On average, we get about two or three reported locally just in the Horsham area,” he said.

“It’s a big issue, especially considering we have a small amount of petrol stations in town. We’re trying to encourage service attendants to not issue fuel to those who look suspicious.”

Ararat Sergeant Mario Miocic said cases were also common in his area.

“It’s very common; we probably get about two a week,” he said.

“Being on the Western Highway, a lot of people are stealing as they drive between Adelaide and Melbourne. It’s a soft crime with soft targets, and often attendants don’t know a theft has happened.”

The policy will also stop Victoria Police’s ability to pursue thieves in order to demand payment. Instead they are to arrest offenders if a crime has been established.

The policy change comes after a long campaign from the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce.

VACC members provided evidence through an industry data sharing tool.

The data proved that repeat offenders could be identified, and that crime can be prevented at the bowser without risk to console operators or the public.

VACC chief executive officer Geoff Gwilym said it was a significant victory.

“Previously, the direction was that Victoria Police ‘may’ take a report, but they weren’t officially required to do so,” he said.

“VACC thanks Victoria Police and Minister for Police Lisa Neville for their work in bringing about this decision, which is good for all Victorians – except fuel thieves, that is.”

However, Mr Gwilym questioned why VicRoads was not more helpful to the process by providing stolen number plate data to industry.

“Industry believes that it has not been supported by VicRoads,” he said.

“In fact, some fuel retailers feel they have been hampered by them. We must have stolen number plate data now, not in six months. VACC yet again calls upon VicRoads to provide this data.”

Extracted from The Ararat Advertiser

Scroll to Top