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More people driving off without paying for petrol

By: Elizabeth Smythe
07 March 2011

Industry experts are urging motorists to ensure they pay for their petrol before leaving the forecourt, following a rise in the number of 'drive offs'.

While the majority of motorists and those in driving or logistics work are paying the increasingly steep fuel prices, many others, it seems, are not. The Daily Mail reports that the number of motorists filling up and driving off without paying rose by 52 per cent in 2010.

The Police and Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) are advising drivers that measures have been put in place to discourage this practice. Police vehicles have been deployed to garage forecourts up and down the country, which has had some success in preventing 'drive offs'.

Inspector Neil Ireland of Suffolk Police said: "The decoy cars are working well and we have certainly seen a reduction in the number of reports." 

The PRA warn that other, non-criminal attempts will not be tolerated. "Deliberately filling up and driving off is a criminal offence but having no means of payment isn't," says spokesman Brian Madderson to The Daily Mail. This is where someone comes in in floods of tears and claims they've left their credit card at home."

Other methods suggested include installing barriers at the fuel pumps that only let a car through when payment has been received and a return to the old days - getting petrol attendants to fill the tank while the driver waits in the car. 

The spate of 'drive offs' is perhaps not a surprise, given that petrol prices in some parts of the country have reached 141p per litre, according to The Sun. All eyes will be on Chancellor George Osborne, who, it is hoped, might scrap the proposed fuel duty rise when he announces the budget on 23 March.

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