A Home Office minister has questioned whether police should bother responding to calls from petrol stations whose customers drive off without paying, claiming retailers are "encouraging theft".
Crime minister Norman Baker claimed petrol stations are taking a calculated risk by not asking motorists to pay up front for their fuel, and are failing to enforce measures to stop thefts.
"They make the calculation that by pulling you into the premises they will engender sales that wouldn't otherwise happen and accept the price for that is that petrol will sometimes be taken without being paid for," Mr Baker told the Financial Times (£).
"The question in (my) mind is if they're doing nothing at all to prevent theft, why should the police bother responding to any calls they get? The police aren't there to provide numbers for insurance companies, that's not their function."
Mr Baker also criticised self-service tills in supermarkets as "an invitation to steal".