A West Yorkshire independent retailer has almost eliminated drive offs by naming and shaming suspects on posters outside his forecourt.
Chidswell Service Station in Dewsbury, operated by Chris Cundall, has fallen victim to a drive-off just four times in the past 12 months and not once in the past three months since putting pictures of drivers caught bilking on cctv on the roadside.
Chris first started naming and shaming six years ago when drive-offs were happening once a fortnight. After investing in cctv with the ability to record to hard disc he started putting pictures of drivers who hadn’t paid on the counter-top, but the roadside posters are proving even more successful.
“Make-offs have cost us £300 in the past year and that’s not a big figure in our industry,” said Chris. “We’re not bothered about number plates because nine times out of 10 they’re stolen so the car and plate don’t match up but naming and shaming with the face of the person works. The police rally to it because they can display the face on their internal system and it gives them the get-up-and-go if they see their faces.”
Chris has had some positive outcomes with the new system. In one instance, a face was displayed on the roadside and the family of the suspect recognised him and offered to pay the amount stolen if Chris dropped the charges.
The scheme also acts as a deterrent. “Local villains see the poster and think ‘I’m not going to go there’,” says Chris. “We get a lot of people commenting, saying ‘good for you’. For us it’s letting a bit of steam off because I get so frustrated when I watch an incident back on the camera – it’s like watching someone robbing your house.”