Melton is Melbourne’s worst suburb for service station drive-offs.
The city recorded 144 fuel thefts between April 2014 and March 2015, an average of 12 a month, making it one of Victoria’s worst suburbs for petrol bowser drive-offs.
Neighbouring shire Moorabool had just 24 thefts for the same time.
Altona Meadows, Werribee and Laverton North are also among the worst-hit suburbs.
United 24 franchisee Arul Packiadoss said petrol thefts were costing his Taylors Lakes service station up to $12,000 a year.
In the latest theft from the service station, on the corner of Kings Road and Melton Highway, a driver made off with fuel valued at $66.
“We have a drive-off almost every day,” Mr Packiadoss said. “We’re losing $800 to $1000 a month. A few years back it was $400-$500 a month, but it’s definitely more common now. So far this month we’ve lost $867.”
Many service stations now operate a pre-pay policy from 8pm-5am to deter petrol drive-offs, but that’s not an option for Mr Packiadoss.
“It’s frustrating, but I can’t do much about it,” he said. “I can’t switch to pre-pay pumps because that’s for head office to decide.
“There’s not much the police can do either. They do their best, but most of these [petrol thieves] are driving on stolen plates anyway.
“I can’t make that money back, it goes directly from my profit margins.”
A parliamentary committee investigating petrol theft is calling for submissions until July 17. Committee chairman Geoff Howard said the committee will investigate the circumstances that lead to someone filling up their vehicle at a petrol station and driving off without paying.
“We’re looking at the measures needed to prevent this happening and the sorts of remedies that need to be in place when this does happen. We will talk to a broad range of people, including the service station industry, legal experts, business peak bodies and government agencies.
“We also welcome the views of community members who may have experience dealing with this issue and suggestions on how to tackle it.”
Meanwhile, police are searching for a man in a blue Holden VF Commodore who allegedly stole petrol from United 24, Taylors Lakes, just before 6pm on June 6.
The driver is described as Caucasian, 175 centimetres tall with short black hair. He was wearing grey cargo pants and a Western Bulldogs football jumper.
Investigators believe the vehicle displayed green P-plates and stolen registration plates, WSN 887.
Crime Stoppers: 1800 333 000 or www.crimestoppersvic.com.au