The problem of customers driving off without paying from a service station has always been a problem but has increased in recent years with the general decline in the global economy. Several car registration recognition systems are now available but their effectiveness is only as good as the database of “bad” registrations. Australia has introduced a “National Drive-Off Register” to build up a database of known problem registrations and take action against them. Nic Moulis, ACAPMAS General Manager, gave a presentation about the new initiative at the “Convenience and Fuel Industry Conference in 2012” in Melbourne which is summarised in the article below.
Service station owners unite to stop drive-off crime
The operators of service stations across Australia are telling criminals that ‘enough is enough’ and that if you drive-off without paying you will be caught. During the Convenience and Fuel Industry Conference 2012 in Melbourne last week, the Australasian Convenience and Petroleum Marketers Association (ACAPMA) and MotorMouth announced the launch of a National Drive-off Register, which will be used by the petrol convenience industry and police to catch criminals.
Hundreds of delegates from the petroleum distribution and petrol convenience industry were told that together ACAPMA and MotorMouth have built a database and reporting mechanism that will help record and follow up on incidents that occur at service stations.
“The National Drive-off Register provides the framework that aims to reduce criminal activity on service station forecourts around Australia,” said Mr Nic Moulis, ACAPMA CEO, at the launch.
“Over two years ago, the ACAPMA Board decided that there was a need for such a scheme after information from members indicated an increase in the number of incidents involving drive-offs and failure-to-pay.
“These crimes have an overwhelming effect on communities in terms of safety and cost; and impact greatly on resources of the petrol convenience industry and the police.”
Delegates were told that pre-payment, while a solution during certain times of trading, would have a great effect on Australia’s productivity.
“Our industry serves millions of customers each day, pre-paid will slow transaction times and this will impact Australia’s productivity. We believe truck drivers, tradespeople, taxis, couriers and many others will be delayed, causing an increase in the cost of them doing business,” said Mr Moulis.
The National Drive-off Register was described as a positive example of the industry helping itself, as well as the government and police.
“The problem between the police and petrol retailers is caused by a lack of consistency in response by all parties. By taking control though the National Drive-off Register we are attempting to eliminate these issues,” said Mr Moulis.
“We are going to manage the expectations both of the police and our industry in an efficient and realistic manner.
“Our aim, in telling criminals that drive-off crime will not be tolerated, is to safeguard and protect the well-being of service station customers and staff, while reducing crime and the fear associated with it.
“Through the activity we propose to drive across our forecourts, we will start to tell criminals that drive-offs are something they will get caught doing; that they are being watched and reported.’
The scheme is open to the whole industry and all service station owners are encouraged to be involved. To subscribe to the National Drive-off Register, operators need only to download the registration form from www.acapma.com.au or call 1300 160 270 for more information.
“I urge operators to subscribe to the register and police to engage. Regardless of who you are or where you are located, the industry, the police and the community needs to come together to solve this.”