Durban’s new crime trend: Motorists ducking off without paying for petrol
Durban – THERE’s a new criminal trend of motorists filling their cars with petrol and making a run for it at petrol stations around Durban, according to Blue Security.
The private security company had been receiving increased reports of such incidents, said ispokesperson Andreas Mathios.
“The most recent case occurred at an uMhlanga service station on Saturday afternoon. A motorist driving a white Citroën filled up R700 worth of fuel and exited the forecourt without paying. The vehicle departed while the petrol attendant was collecting the card machine to process the payment,” he said.
Mathios said this practice put staff, other vehicles and property at risk.
He felt it was important to create awareness of such incidents among petrol-pump attendants.
“Petrol attendants should have panic buttons. Technological advances, though, are also assisting in the fight against bilking, specifically automatic number plate recognition. Cameras using this technology provide a smart crime-fighting solution for preventive policing at petrol stations and are used with great success by Blue Security customers,” he said.
Goolam Hamid, the uMhlanga petrol station manager where the incident happened, said they had tried to lay charges against the motorist. “But when the Citroen’s number plates were checked, we came up with nothing. I believe false number plates were used.”
He was aware of incidents where customers would drive off and come back to pay the bill, but this was the first time a person had driven off without any intention of paying.
The normal practice when somebody could not pay, he said, was to take a personal item to ensure the motorist returned to settle their bill.
“You can’t ask the customer to pay first as it would be a disaster,” he said.
He was aware this sometimes happened at other service stations and this was one of the risks they faced.
Tony Ball, a former petrol station owner, said this incident did not surprise him, but added it was worrying it was becoming a trend.
Ball believes the tough economic conditions could be the reason behind the bilking and believes customers should pay first, especially at night. He used to encourage his staff to do this.
Ball said some service stations made people pay first and, in the event of bilking, made staff pay in the money.
“It is important that you back the staff. The customer is important, but not always right.”