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This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

Fail to Pay (FTP)


When someone puts fuel into their car at a service station, then does not pay for the fuel, this is called a Fail to Pay (FTP) fuel theft. FTP is considered fraud under the Crimes Act 1900, section 192E.

The offence

Fraud is defined as when a person obtains property that belongs to another person, by any deception or dishonesty. It also occurs when a person obtains a financial advantage, or causes financial disadvantage, by any deception or dishonesty. The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 10 years.

The owner of the service station allows a person to place fuel in a vehicle with the presumption it will then be paid for. When the person intentionally fails to pay for the fuel, the owner has been deceived. This is why petrol theft is considered fraud rather than larceny.

The offence can be committed when a person makes no attempt to pay, by driving off immediately, or makes a dishonest attempt to pay. If a person enters a service station and their bank card is declined when they attempt to pay, the standard procedure is for the operator to record the person’s details and the person to make an undertaking to return and pay. If the person fails to return, a police complaint is usually made. In some instances, a stolen credit card is used for payment.

Reporting of FTP by service stations

FTP incidents should be reported online at the NSW Police Force Community Portal.

A report requires incident details such as:

  • the date and time of the incident;
  • the service station address and company details;
  • the type, volume and value of the fuel taken;
  • the description and registration of the vehicle involved;
  • any description of the person who pumped the fuel, or vehicle passengers;
  • any photos or CCTV footage.

Offenders sometimes use tactics such as disguising their appearance, disguising number plates or using false number plates. Police have reported a correlation between an increase in petrol price and petrol theft, as well number plate theft.

Police are encouraging service station owners to set up pay-before-you-pump systems to avoid fuel theft.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

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