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Petrol theft trial catching 'less than 3%' of thieves: data
24/10/2012 - Hundreds of petrol thieves are getting away with breaking the law because investigating police officers have been replaced with a fax machine hotline, the NSW opposition says.
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Less than three per cent of people reported for theft under the state government trial ended up being charged, according to data released by Labor MP Walt Secord.
So despite 712 reports of petrol theft being made to the fax reporting hotline in the three-month period from January to March, only 21 people were actually charged.
Opposition police spokesman Nathan Rees said hundreds of people were getting away with breaking the law because of the government's budget cuts to the NSW Police Force.
"This is what happens when you replace hardworking police officers with a fax machine hotline to cut costs," he said in a statement on Tuesday.
The trial has been taking place in Fairfield, Blacktown, Mt Druitt and Port Stephens, where petrol station operators have been told to fill out a 'fail to pay for fuel' form and fax it to a hotline instead of reporting petrol theft to their local police station.
Rees says people expect to have police investigating crimes — "not piling up in a fax machine".
"What incentive is there for people to do the right thing when you could get off scot-free?"
Secord called on the government to dump the trial.
"It is no wonder there are reports of service station operators not bothering to report petrol thefts - under this trial they are being forced to send a fax and simply hope for the best," he said.
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