Drive-offs – very uncivil behaviour

Mitesh Patel wrote: “My family owns a forecourt in Northants (Billing Service Station) and we have had issues with drive-offs in the past which we report to the police (not that it makes any difference.).” He reported a fuel theft where, as the CCTV eventually proved, the same person filled a fuel can on three occasions. “And the reply I got was that I should take it up with the owner of the vehicle and it will not be looked at as a crime by the police. Obviously I was infuriated by this and sent a reply thanking them for nothing.”

There was another incident where someone threw sand over a woman’s car. This time the police asked for footage and Mitesh politely refused to supply it. He was told that his comments would be passed onto the lady and may lead to ‘bad press’.

In the case of the outright theft I consulted Bruce Nichol, director of operations at the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) to see if Forecourt Watch could provide answers. He says: “Making off without paying for fuel is seen by most forces as completely civil unless there is clear intent not to pay for the fuel. This is broken into three distinct areas. No Means of Payment – completely civil. Failure to pay – customer fills vehicle with fuel, enters shop and usually pays for other goods but not the fuel. Intent to pay has been shown by entering the shop. Civil Drive Off – customer fills vehicle with fuel, gets in and drives off.”

He added that, if there was a clear intent not to pay, it is criminal. “However, many forces do not follow up as they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was no clear intention to pay being shown.

“In this instance it would appear that there was a clear intention not to pay for the fuel and I think the police should have recorded it as such. However, their comments re taking it up with the owner of the keeper is not as easy as it sounds. DVLA will not release registered keeper details unless the fuel has been dispensed into the car, fuel cans etc do not fall within the parameters for DVLA to release this information to the garage owner as there was no car involved, this takes us back to the fact that the police should investigate this as a theft.”

This story had several twists and turns. The police returned to say they had the culprit in custody and, from the CCTV, identified theft on three occasions. But Mitesh didn’t like their tone when they wanted footage of the sand being dumped. He is considering making a formal complaint.

Fixed in a jiffy

Mohammed Nabi, who runs Mayland service station in the village of the same name in Essex, has a very busy Cashzone machine. When Mo got in touch he said the machine had gone wrong and stayed wrong for about six weeks. “It’s not dispensing money and it’s got a faulty dispenser. Every time I ring them they say the engineer is coming but no one turns up.”

I contacted Cardtronics and a spokesperson said: “Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We have been in contact with Mr Nabi and are working with him to resolve the issue. We have apologised to Mr Nabi for the delay and we appreciate his understanding and cooperation in this matter.” In fact, Mo tells me, it was fixed the very next day.

Stanley Kydd was decidedly unimpressed when Camelot put a failed terminal down to a glitch in its system over the Bank Holiday weekend. It occurred in the store he had just signed over to his son-in-law Gavin Carvill in Newtownards, County Down. It meant that National Lottery customers (some of them OAPs on sticks) had to walk to Stanley’s remaining site, Frances Street Service Station, to buy tickets.

I asked Camelot for a response. A spokesperson replied: “Our retailers help to raise vital funding for good causes – and therefore it is always in the best interests of Camelot to have any retailer issues fixed as quickly as possible. As a new store owner, we’d already been working closely with the retailer to transfer the National Lottery over to their business from the previous store owner – and this can take 24 hours. However, due to a technical issue over the Bank Holiday weekend, this switch wasn’t able to take place until the morning of 27 May.”

But Gavin says: “I have no doubt we have lost customers over this mess.”


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