Petrol stations use tyre-spiking 'stinger' to combat fuel theft

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London, May 25 : Fed up petrol station owners in London have employed a new method to deal with drivers who flee after filling up their car tanks without paying - tyre-busting stinger devices.

The number of "driveaway" motorists who do not pay has rocketed as petrol prices shot up. .

The cashiers start out the device when a pump sensor detects a driver trying to sneak off without paying.

Red lights flash and loudspeakers belt out a warning, then a row of razor-sharp metal spikes is triggered as the car's front wheels go over pressure pads.

The rear wheels are punctured and go flat within 10 seconds. The device leaves a metal tube with a unique identification number embedded in the tyre, which allows police to trace the thieves.

Petrol station boss Mukesh Patel, of Finsbury, north London, installed the Drivestop system last month after non-payers cost him 5,000 pounds in the past year alone.

"More people are trying it with the high cost of fuel and we have been hit by at least one a week," the Daily Star quoted him as saying.

"But since the notices about the spikes went up there haven't been any driveaways," he added.

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