The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has commended the Victorian Government for taking the national lead by launching an inquiry to crack down on the serious crime of petrol theft.

?e commend the Victorian Government for taking the lead on this critical small business issue and we encourage everyone affected by this crime to make a submission and make the impacts on you and your business known,?said AACS CEO Jeff Rogut.

?his is a chance to make a stand and drive real action to curb this criminal behaviour, punish offenders properly and support small businesses in the process,?he said.

Mr Rogut said the crime of petrol theft hits small businesses and potentially motorists directly in the hip pocket and must be addressed by all Governments in Australia as a matter of urgency.
Petrol is a very low margin product, meaning petrol theft has a direct and significant impact on retailers, the majority of which are small businesses operating under license or franchise agreements.

The AACS State of the Industry report released this week shows that petrol theft was up 6.8% for calendar year 2014. This crime on average now costs the convenience industry approximately $66 million nationally, dramatically affecting the bottom line for franchisees and store operators.

?n average store owners are losing around $220 a week from people driving off without paying for petrol. It comes straight off the bottom line, besides which there are safety issues,?Mr Rogut said.

Mr Rogut said the support of Police Minister Wade Noonan had been instrumental in raising awareness of the severity of this crime and progressing the inquiry, which will look at ways to reduce the incidence of petrol drive-offs and find ways for service station operators to recover losses.

The AACS has previously rejected calls for mandatory pre-pay petrol systems, as they are at odds with the convenience store model and limit the potential for important impulse sales, and instead has suggested loss of licence demerit points and heavy fines as potential deterrents to petrol theft.

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