COPS want to change the way motorists buy fuel after a spike in drive-off thefts, it’s reported.
Police bosses say petrol companies should make drivers pre-pay at the pump instead of encouraging them to come into forecourt shops.
The number of people driving off without paying, known as “bilking”, increased to around 25,000 a year, with some forces reporting rises of up to 40 per cent last year.
Simon Cole, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead on local policing, told the Telegraph: “The petroleum industry could design out bilking in 30 seconds by making people pay up front, which is what they do in other countries.
“They don’t, because the walk in their shops is part of their business offer.”
Mr Cole, chief constable for Leicestershire, wants officers to be able to focus on violent crime and burglary.
Some forces are no longer investigating thefts under £50 unless there’s proof of criminal intent or other criminality.
He also blamed high street stores for putting high-value goods by their doors, which encourage thefts, and says it could be “designed out”.
Mr Cole said that retail-related offences accounted for 12 per cent of total recorded crime investigated by his force.
It comes as fat-cat fuel giants have been accused of overcharging motorists by £2.5 million a day in a petrol price rip-off.
Petrol prices have hit a near four-year high of 129.51p per litre for unleaded.
But wholesale prices have fallen by 4ppl in the past fortnight on the back of lower oil costs.
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