Petrol stealing fuels Sydney fraud increase

Fraud in Sydney's inner suburbs has increased by almost 23 per cent in two years, with petrol stations, supermarkets and chemists suffering most.

Service station drive-offs were the major reason for the increase in fraud, followed by credit card fraud in shops.

The latest quarterly NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research figures show that the incidence of fraud in inner-Sydney suburbs has increased by 22.8 per cent and by 12.2 per cent in the wider Sydney area in the 24 months to September this year. Around NSW, the increase was 9.4 per cent.

The number of fraud incidents at service stations was 11,743 between October 2010 to September 2011 and 14,199 for the same period the following year.

The number of fraud incidents on commercial premises increased from 12,781 to 14166 in the same two-year period.

The Bureau of Crime Statistics reported that the growth in robberies without a weapon over the past 24 months to September seemed to be spreading across service stations, takeaway shops, chemists, newsagents and general stores.

The figures also reveal that the number of drive-by shootings has stabilised, in-line with cyclical yearly trends.

April and July were the worst two months in the past decade for drive-by shootings.

But despite the spike, the overall trend in drive-by shooting incidents over the past 24 months is "neither significantly up or down" compared to previous years.

The quarterly update also shows there have been significant reductions in assault, unarmed robbery, theft and malicious damage to property.

An overview of regions shows unarmed robbery has increased by 80.5 per cent on the mid-North Coast and by 66.3 per cent in the Hunter area.

In the Illawarra, theft from cars has increased by 11.1 per cent.

Theft from shops has increased by 37.1 per cent in the state's south-east and the incidence of malicious damage to property has risen by 22.3 per cent in the state's far-west.

Fraud increased by 17.5 per cent in the St George-Sutherland area, by 20 per cent in Canterbury-Bankstown and by 21.4 per cent in Fairfield-Liverpool.

Jackie Fitzgerald, deputy director of the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics said there has traditionally been a correlation between the price of petrol and the incidence of people stealing it from service station bowsers.

"People are more inclined to [commit] this type of offence," she said. 'There is a pretty low rate of detection for stealing petrol, particularly if stolen number plates have been attached to the car."

Police Minister Mike Gallacher said the crime statistics show a consistent reduction in violent offences.

“This is good news for the community and our hardworking police officers,” he said.

Mr Gallacher said in the past 24 months, violent offences have been down 4.3 per cent, and over 60 months they have been down 2.3 per cent.

"Overall, the latest figures are encouraging, showing that 9.8 per cent of major offences down, 85.8 per cent stable and only 4.4 per cent up," he said.

"Particularly, non-domestic, violence-related assault is down by 7.8 per cent. More than 40 per cent of the decrease came from a decline in assault in outdoor/public places. Licensed premises accounted for 18 per cent of the fall.

"This shows that the efforts made by this government and police to stop alcohol-fuelled violence are getting results, though we still believe there is work to be done."

This story Petrol stealing fuels Sydney fraud increase first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.