’Pay up, before you fuel up,’ says some petrol stations as theft of fuel rises

Picture: Twitter

Picture: Twitter

Published Apr 7, 2022


Durban: With the rising costs of fuel, service stations have become targets for criminals who fill up their tanks and then drive off, prompting certain stations to ask for payment upfront.

At one service station, the note read: ’Due to the high incidents of fraud and drive off’s, we will be requesting payment first before dispensing any fuel.’

A Glenwood service station, which also has a sign telling customers that they may be asked to pay for fuel in advance, said they had been robbed quite a few times.

“Recently, we had four people drive off with four full tanks of fuel,” said the admin worker, who declined to be named.

She said while the sign was specifically for cars that didn’t have number plates, it was at the discretion of the petrol attendants.

“So the modus operandi is that they would ask the attendants to top up their tanks, and then while the attendant was placing the nozzle back, they would speed off.

She said the incidents had been reported to the police.

“This was in the case where number plates could be traced, and we have managed to recover the money.”

Prem Balram from Reaction Unit SA said they have attended to quite a few cases of fuel theft.

“So the customer would ask for a full tank of fuel and then request to make a payment on the card machine, and they would flee.”

Balram said they made two successful arrests this year after tracking CCTV footage, and those drivers were charged with theft of fuel.

He said while some garages haven’t opted to ask for payment in advance, he said it was a move that could be beneficial.

“In Europe and America, this is how it works. You swipe your card first, and then you get the fuel.”

SAPS said they could not comment on general theft of fuel and instead ask for specific cases.

In a viral video, a car is seen driving off after filling fuel, but the petrol attendant, has a surprise for the driver, shattering the back windscreen.