Gardaí believe increase in fuel prices behind rise in ‘drive-offs’ and oil thefts

GARDAÍ believe that recent increases in fuel costs may be a key reason behind a spate of so called ‘drive-offs’ from service stations across the north Cork area over weeks.

ermoy-based crime prevention officer Sergeant John Kelly said there had been a marked increase in the number of reported incidents of people filling up their tanks and driving away without paying for the petrol of diesel since the start of the year.

“In one particular incident in Mallow a car with false numbers plates drove onto the forecourt, filled up with more than €100 worth of fuel got into their vehicle and drove off,” said Sgt Kelly.

“In other incidents people filled up their vehicles, went into the station and purchased other goods such as a coffee of cigarettes and then left without paying for the fuel,” he added.

Sgt Kelly said that while some service stations have addressed the problem by putting in place ‘pay first fill-up after’ systems and CCTV coverage, others are seen a fair game by opportunist thieves.

“These incidents can prove very costly to the owners and operators of service stations. Our advice would be to make sure staff are vigilant and made aware of this type of crime and, where possible, put in place systems that will act as a deterrent,” he said.

Sgt Kelly said there is also a direct correlation between the high price of oil and thefts from domestic home heating tanks and industrial storage tanks.

“Again, the high cost of oil tends to drive this type of theft. For example one storage tank at a community facility in Mallow was recently cleaned out of thousands of Euros worth of oil,” said Sgt Kelly.

He said that other thieves take a more subtle approach by siphoning off oil without actually emptying the tank.

“Quite often domestic tank owners do not notice or think they may have been using more oil than normal, particularly over the winter period. In this way thieves can quite often feed out of the same trough for years,” said Sgt Kelly.

He said that holiday homes, schools, buildings sites and farms in rural areas are also prime targets for oil thieves.

“Our advice to businesses and homeowners would be to ensure that storage tanks are well secured at all times and, if possible, situated well out of sight,” said Sgt Kelly.

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