ALMOST 100 people may have failed to pay for fuel at petrol bowsers across the Chifley Police District so far this financial year, but just nine have been charged.
Petrol theft is considered fraud under the NSW Crimes Act 1900, with a NSW Police spokeswoman saying officers are committed to tackling the crime.
So far during 2019/20, 91 people had failed to pay for their fuel at petrol bowsers in the Chifley region with nine people charged.
By comparison, in 2018/19, there were 94 fail to pay for fuel incidents reported with 15 people charged.
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Chifley crime manager Detective Inspector Luke Rankin said not all fail to pay incidents are done with criminal intent.
He said a proportion of these incidents are honest mistakes and people will return to the service station to pay.
Detective Inspector Rankin said, however, in some cases people will "go there with the intention to do the crime".
"They use fake number plates or disguise their number plate or they disguise their appearance," he said.
"If we start to see reports of the same description vehicle doing multiple thefts, then we'll put a higher priority on that."
He said stolen cars were also often used in fuel theft cases.
Detective Inspector Rankin said unfortunately it is very "resource intensive" to investigate every fuel theft reported.
"We simply can't investigate all of them to the lengths we'd like to," he said.
Detective Inspector Rankin said there were opportunities for these businesses to implement strategic measures to reduce the incidents of this crime, such as customers paying for fuel before filling up.
Other types of fuel theft, including from rural properties and construction sites, are also of concern to police officers across the Chifley Police District.
A NSW Police spokeswoman said police are committed to tackling 'fail to pay' (FTP) crime and urged the industry to assist.
"We need the help of industry to ensure we can catch and charge those who rob services stations of fuel," she said.
"It is critical that any service station targeted by fuel thieves fill out the FTP form and submit it to police."
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