Fuel theft costs millions while police look on

Melbourne, 6 November – New research shows that fuel theft is costing Victoria up to $4.2 million a year, while a lack of police response is discouraging service station owners from reporting the crime. 

In a first, research conducted by the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC) quantifies the actual incidence and cost of fuel theft amongst its member businesses and to the Victorian economy. 

The research, conducted in response to growing industry concerns over the occurrence of fuel theft, involved a survey of 170 Victorian fuel retailers that measured the frequency and cost of fuel theft to their businesses. 

VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, said the results show that around one-third of all fuel thefts are not reported to police. 

“This is concerning as official government statistics show a declining trend of fuel theft, when in fact onethird of all thefts are not reported by service station owners. The failure of police to take any action is discouraging many businesses from reporting all cases of fuel theft,” Mr Gwilym said. 

According to the data, 75 per cent of fuel retailers were victims of regular fuel theft, ranging from between one and four thefts a month to 16 or more thefts a month over the last year. The average cost of fuel stolen varied from $300 a month to more than $1,100 a month for some businesses. 

“In an industry where margins are very low, often around two per cent, the added impost of fuel theft is a significant cost for many independent retailers and can threaten their viability,” Mr Gwilym said. 

Within metropolitan Melbourne, the highest rate of fuel theft was observed in the northern and northwestern suburbs, as well as in the eastern and outer eastern suburbs. Within regional Victoria, Ballarat, the Wimmera and Gippsland regions recorded the highest rates of theft overall.

VACC is Victoria’s peak automotive industry body representing more than 5,000 small business members

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VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym
VACC Executive Director, Geoff Gwilym, says many service stations no longer bother to report fuel theft as police will not take any action