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Image: Submitted/New Brunswick RCMP

N.B. police stop responding to most fuel theft complaints

By Brad Perry Apr 25, 2024 | 1:32 PM

A rising number of fuel thefts in New Brunswick is placing an increasing strain on police resources.

That is one of the reasons why police in our province have stopped responding to most of these complaints.

The decision was made by the New Brunswick Association of Chiefs of Police, which represents municipal police forces, and the New Brunswick RCMP.

As of Monday, April 15, officers are only being dispatched if the incident involves an “immediate or ongoing public safety threat,” according to a statement from the association.

“Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in fuel thefts at service stations in all regions across New Brunswick, resulting in thousands of calls to police during this time period,” said the statement.

“Tragically, in other regions in Canada, fuel thefts have been linked to loss of life, as well as injuries to employees and members of the public, from what has reasonably been characterized as a preventable crime.”

The association said incidents of fuel thefts have been “essentially eliminated” in provinces and territories where retailers have rolled out “pay before you pump” options or where pre-payment is mandatory.

Legislation is already mandatory in British Columbia and Alberta, while Ontario continues to work on legislation.

“Fuel prices have increased significantly in recent years, and as a result, people look at crimes of opportunity. If the opportunity is eliminated, so is the crime and the associated risks,” said the association.

Officers in New Brunswick responded to more than 5,200 fuel theft complaints between 2020 and 2023, according to figures provided by the association.

Only six per cent of those complaints resulted in charges. Police said most had insufficient evidence to proceed, some cases saw the money collected, or retailers did not want to proceed with charges.

Retailers can still report fuel theft if their local police agency offers an online crime reporting service so investigators can continue to monitor crime trends.

A spokesperson for the New Brunswick RCMP declined to comment and directed all questions to the association.