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Last Updated: Friday, 25 January 2008, 11:57 GMT
Stinger device to stop fuel theft
A service station in Essex has fitted traffic lights and a stinger device to deter people driving away without paying after filling up with fuel.

The Total services on the B1007 between Galleywood and Stock near Chelmsford is one of the first filling stations in the county to use the device.

The Drivestop device can be activated by staff at the exit and entrance to puncture the tyres of any suspect car.

Warning signs and traffic lights alert motorists to the device.

Ray Holloway, from the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said the special stinger is a necessity if businesses are to survive because "drive-aways" can hit garages hard.

"It's a sad fact that petrol retailers are going out of business at an increasing rate and they cannot afford these losses.

"This is a small Essex business and the effect of the stinger on someone who leaves the forecourt without paying for fuel is immediate and dramatic."

The Total garage said most drivers welcome the arrangement but a few have pointed out that it would be embarrassing if they were to "sting" an innocent motorist so they are taking great care.

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