Hotspots for petrol drive-offs revealed

Decreasing numbers of motorists are making off without paying for petrol
Decreasing numbers of motorists are making off without paying for petrol

The number of St Helens motorists driving off without paying for fuel has dropped over the last 12 months, but detection rates remain low.

Figures released under Freedom of Information rules reveals that in 2013/14, 102 drive-offs were recorded, which is fewer than 2012/13’s figure of 140.

But this has shot up from 2012/11 and 2010/11, when there were 95 and 90 crimes respectively.

Despite CCTV, just 14 people were identified in 2013/14 and four the previous year.

But a Merseyside Police spokesman said many of the offences were still under investigation.

Over the last year, 20 petrol stations fell victim to the crime, also known as ‘bilking’.

The most common targets were four Tesco sites - in Rainford Road; Stadium Industrial Park; St Helens Linkway and Jubits Lane; three Caldo Forceourts - Elton Head Road; Worsley Brow and Haresfinch Road; two forecourts at Morrisons - Boundary Road and Baxter Lane and two Spar Stores - West End Road and Elton Head Road.

Other forecourts include BP Linkway, St Helens, Billing Service Station, Main Street. Rontec Garage, Mill Lane, in Newton le Willows and Shell Haydock Island, A580.

Tesco spokesman Mark Thomas said: “Like other petrol suppliers, we’re sometimes the victim of crime when people do not pay for their fuel. We work closely with police at all our stores and petrol stations in St Helens.”

A Morrisons spokesman said: “We operate a zero tolerance to all forms of crime in our stores. We work closely with police to prevent drive-offs and identify culprits.”