Petrol station names and shames ‘pump and run’ thieves

A petrol-station owner in Växjö in southern Sweden grew so tired of customers filling up and driving off without paying that he identified them with a photo at the entrance to his station.

The man is now subject to a police investigation.

“We have visited the station and the photographs have been taken down,” detective chief inspector Stefan Karlsson at Växjö police told the TT news agency.

The police have also framed a report about the incident but have not yet made a decision over whether the disgruntled petrol station owner is suspected of any criminal offence.

“I’ll have to take the hit if it comes. We can not be robbed of petrol worth up to 30,000 kronor ($4,300) without doing something about it,” Håkan Emvall told Sveriges Radio Kronoberg.

Emvall finally had enough of police inaction when the same men filled up their cars and drove off without paying for the third time in a week. Despite repeated reports to the police the men were allowed to continue and Emvall decided to take the law into his own hands.

The photographs that were published at the entrance to the station depicted the two men after having just filled up a Saab, with the registration number written below. He furthermore labelled the two men as “hit-and-run petrol thieves”.

The question has now arisen over whether it is legal to claim and identify someone as a criminal.

Retail trade organization, Svensk Handel, does not think so but Emvall has in his defence cited a decision by the Skåne police to publish surveillance camera pictures of suspected criminals on its homepage.

The Skåne police force is currently seeking help and tips from the public to solve a series of frauds and robberies.

Växjö police will in the near future offer its view of the use of the petrol station’s surveillance cameras in this manner.

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