Usually, the Telegraph’s headlines give a good idea of what the story is going to be. But today’s edition had me beat.
“Motorists should be forced to pre-pay for petrol, so police can focus on violent crime”
I spent a few minutes trying to guess what this could mean but I couldn’t come up with anything that made sense. How else do you buy petrol? You always “pre-pay” by using your credit card to start the pump. What possible connection could there be between buying petrol and violent crime? Bursting with curiosity I opened the article, and all became clear.
We in Israel are so used to living in a modern, 21st century country that it is sometimes hard to understand the problems of less fortunate countries. It turns out that Britain is suffering from an epidemic of drive-off thefts from petrol stations. You will find this difficult to believe, but petrol pumps in the UK do not accept payment by credit card (or debit card or cash). You first fill up your tank from an always-on pump and then have to make your way to an office where the cashier takes your payment.
This is incredibly inefficient as the pump cannot be used by the next in line until you have returned from the cashier’s office. And, more importantly, there is nothing to stop you filling up, jumping in your car and driving off. Rising petrol prices have encouraged many drivers to take advantage of this invitation to steal; drive-off thefts have increased to around 25,000 a year, with some police forces reporting rises of up to 40 per cent last year.
Britain’s police forces are suffering from a shortage of funding and manpower. Some forces no longer investigate thefts under £50. As a solution, top police officials are calling for many ‘unimportant’ crimes to be ignored. Police should be allowed to focus on violent crimes (knife crime has soared with 11,199 crimes featuring a blade or sharp instrument reported in the first quarter of 2018) and burglaries rather than wasting their time being called to petrol stations and having to investigate newly-invented hate crimes such as misogyny. (How long will it be before it becomes a crime to hate cabbage?)
While our petrol stations have a clear advantage over anything that Britain has to offer, there is much merit in the principle of prioritizing crimes. The Israel Police should issue a list of crimes which will not be investigated; crimes you can commit without fear of police action. We already know some of crimes that would make the list: riding an electric bike at high speed on the pavement, or the wrong way down a one-way street, various international investment scams, driving like a maniac on Kvish 90 ……..
And don’t forget to read the Len Palmer Mysteries from Amazon – leaving these exciting adventure books off your reading list would be a real crime!