More drivers have been leaving petrol stations without paying for fuel, NOS reports. SODA, a foundation that follows up on fuel theft for hundreds of gas stations in the country, attributed this to the dramatic increase in petrol and diesel prices. The size of the unpaid bills is also increasing.
“I don’t think there is an increase in crime, but in powerlessness,” said Lourens ‘t Hart of SODA. “People want to pay, but can’t pay.”
Although the police have not yet seen more reports of fuel theft than usual, ‘t Hart believes this is because there is usually a slight delay in fuel stations making a report to authorities. However, SODA has reason to believe the number of drivers who refuel without paying is higher than normal: in general, between 350 and 370 drivers do this per week.
The most common tactic concerns customers who indicate they have no money upon checking out and promise to come back later to pay the bill. “They always have a story ready and promise to come back soon. But often they don’t come back, even if they leave their passport or ID card behind,” gas station owner Rosan Kreijne told NOS.
The damage of fuel theft to petrol station owners is also higher than normal because of the current fuel prices. “I expect this increase [in theft] to continue in the near future with these high pump prices,” ‘t Hart said.