Petrol pirates manipulate free fuel

Several unmanned Swedish petrol stations opened the floodgates for vehicle owners to tank up totally free of charge over the weekend.

It now appears that the free flow was an organized fraud attack on unmanned petrol stations in Skåne county, southern Sweden.

Vehicle owners couldn’t believe their luck when a number of unmanned gas stations in the south of Sweden appeared to be giving away free petrol on Saturday afternoon. Cars lined up around the block to make use of the free petrol.

Thomas Ögren, press director at petrol company Preem told TT news agency that this type of fraud was most unusual.

“This isn’t the type of fraud your average person could organize. You need to know how the pumps work to get lucky”, Ögren said.

The criminals focused on a certain type of petrol pump that may be easily sabotaged in order to get free petrol.

On Friday, petrol pirates manipulated two unmanned petrol stations in Bjuv and Billesholm in northwestern Skåne. On Saturday evening a gas station in Landskrona fell victim to the fraudsters and on Sunday two further gas stations in Malmö were affected.

Rumours about the free petrol spread like wildfire. When police arrived to the Hydromacken station on Malmö’s Ystadsvägen, between 20 and 30 vehicles were queuing for free gas.

Exactly how much gas has disappeared is not yet clear. According to the Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper, Billesholm petrol station in northwest Skåne lost up to 47,000 kronor ($7,397) worth of petrol.

Swedes are leaving their cars at home in droves because of rising petrol prices, so this Saturday “sale” must have been very welcome.

According to Jonas Sidnå, sales director at petrol sales company Norsk Hydro, it has been several years since something like this happened in Sweden. Unlike credit card fraud, this type of technical manipulation is most unusual, and demands real expertise.