Pre-pay makes dent in thefts
Petrol companies are cracking down on drive-off thefts by bringing in new security measures.
Auckland service stations are reporting more thefts since petrol prices began rising.
BP Landscape Rd manager Sanjay Naicker says the station has changed its pumps to pre-pay, which has helped curb thefts.
“It was happening quite a lot. One time it was three times in a week. It’s all right now.”
He says people were driving off with large amounts of fuel up to $90 worth.
Although they reported the thefts to the police, it was hard to get the money back because some cars had stolen number plates.
The service station is only open until 9pm, which Mr Naicker says is also an advantage in stopping late night drive-offs.
At Caltex Blockhouse Bay, manager Kirti Ishvarlal says staff serving customers their petrol helps prevent thefts.
They have about two drive-offs a week, usually motorists who have filled up their tanks.
The pumps are switched to pre-pay at night and on weekends.
Stephen Sadiq, manager of Shell Royal Oak, says they sometimes get six or seven petrol thefts a week.
The station has not switched to pre-pay because many customers don’t like it, he says. He says thefts are either reported directly to police or to Shell head office.
Chevron New Zealand, which markets the Caltex brand, is training forecourt staff to be more vigilant and has rolled out more security measures.
Spokeswoman Sharon Buckland wouldn’t give details, but says urban areas and places with lots of boy racers are more likely to have drive-off thefts.
Some stations are owned by independent retailers, who lose out badly.
She says thieves who rationalise their behaviour by thinking they are stealing from big companies are actually putting local businesses at risk.
“The retailer has already bought that petrol from us. If they only make maybe 4c a litre and someone steals $100 of fuel, they have to pump a lot of gas to get back to square one.”
BP Oil communications manager Diana Stretch says drive-off thefts vary between areas.
The station workers have to authorise the pumps manually when customers pull up, which allows vehicles and licence plates to be recorded by the security system.
If a car without licence plates pulls up, staff can get the customer to pay for their fuel before switching on the pump.
Both companies generally use third party companies to follow up on thefts.