Radical plan to stop Central Queensland fuel thefts

THE high number of fuel thefts in the region could be halted under a radical plan.

This week the RACQ revealed the number of fuel thefts in Queensland, broken down by Queensland Police districts.

RACQ spokeswoman Renee Smith said the statistics showed Queensland was trending upwards on last year's figures.

Capricornia Chamber of Commerce Peter Fraser said the economic climate in the region at the moment was linked to the huge problem across the region of fuel drive-offs.

"For small businesses concerned, this creates a huge hole in their profitability," he said.

"To maintain their profit margins, the only way they can counter this problem is to raise the price of fuel.

"In essence, one of the reasons for the disparity in our fuel prices from other regions is that we, the consumer, are subsidising the thieves who engage in this practice."

According to the figures, there were 306 fuel thefts in Capricornia in 2015 and there were 240 between January and August 2016.

While RACQ called on police to take a tougher stance on offenders caught stealing petrol, Mr Fraser put forward a radical idea that would halt the thefts.

Mr Fraser proposes all petrol stations in the region install equipment so that customers pay before they pump.

"I'm told that while video footage is no doubt helpful in potentially identifying some of the thieves, a number of these thefts are being undertaken by people simply travelling through the region," he said.

Mr Fraser said he saw the Pay Before You Pump system operating in America.

"This was not just limited to the 'credit card pay at the pump' solution which potentially requires all stations to upgrade their technology," he said.

Mr Fraser said those wishing to pay cash simply pay the attendant in the shop. And if they were filling up, they would get change once they finish pumping petrol.

"I paid cash a number of times and to be honest, it's not that inconvenient. The impact upon my day was an extra one minute to see the attendant before I started filling up."

"The worst locations for petrol drive-offs are the Gold Coast and Logan, with 2,393 and 1,491 crimes recorded respectively," Ms Smith said.