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Tesco petrol - 21/06/2006



Tesco Petrol Garage Eastbourne Sussex




How an innocent visit to a Tesco garage resulted in a visit from the police.

Now Rachel Roberts-Creber likes to think of herself as a law abiding person, but after one trip to Tesco's Bridgend store to fill up with fuel, she'd had a visit she'll never forget.

The assistant speech therapist from Maesteg didn't notice anything unusual during her visit to the garage, but the next day a policeman came calling. He wanted to know who owned the car, had it been driven to Bridgend and had she put fuel in it.

It turns out the policeman was there because Rachel was suspected of stealing 20 worth of fuel! Her trip had been recorded on CCTV and staff there had identified her as a fuel thief.

The visit threw Rachel into a panic, even though she'd paid by card and kept her receipt. She said: "Although I knew that I had it, I was still panic-stricken thinking, where is it?"

She said: "I felt guilty even though I was innocent, because I had to prove to them that I was innocent even though I had paid."

Rachel was able to find her receipt and the policeman was satisfied the theft was nothing to do with her. Petrol stations lose around 14m to 'drive-away' fuel thieves. But Rachel wanted to know how Tesco staff had come to pick her out and what checks the store made before calling the police.

She phoned the store and the petrol station manager apologised. The only explanation she could offer was that staff had picked out Rachel's car on the CCTV footage. But Rachel had gone to the kiosk to pay and even used her Tesco clubcard!

She said: "I think Tesco just need to be more accurate with all up-to-date technology and such a big store. I'm surprised that they make such errors and I appreciate that it is human error but this is more, this is just neglect."

When X-Ray asked Tesco why Rachel had been singled out they said it was because she'd moved her car before paying - but she didn't, all she did was pull in front of another car to fill up. We put this to Tesco and they came back to us again, this time saying they'd accused her simply because she was on the forecourt at the time of the theft! But Rachel had very clearly gone to pay at the kiosk! She couldn't understand why this wasn't noticed when the CCTV was checked.

We asked Tesco what checks Britain's biggest supermarket make before they call the police. For example, who reviews the tape and how senior are they? They never did answer that question!



Tesco extra forecourt petrol prices October 2006


So we asked an independent chain of garages what they did in these circumstances. They told us they had thorough procedures and followed a chain of command before calling the police.

Tony Cole, area manager of Gills of Maesteg, said: "As soon as something like this happens, the cashier will then automatically stop the CCTV. They'll then contact the manager, who will then contact myself as area manager. We then sit down and go through the video.

"You can't even think about phoning the police unless we are ourselves, the manager and the cashier are 100% positive. We will then sit with the police, go through it stage stage by stage showing them exactly what we've got. It is very serious."

Despite our requests, Tesco haven't told us what procedures they followed in Rachel's case. But they did say before police were called they tried to "obtain as much information from CCTV as possible ". But they also said that their footage "doesn't follow customers into the kiosk".

Rachel wants some reassurance that more checks will be made in future. She said: "It's just wrong for a big store like Tesco to operate in this manner. Really I think they should definitely check their facts before they send the police to peoples' homes. I think it is an intrusion of privacy, that I had no choice but to let that police officer into my home. I did do it, but I didn't like having to do it."

Now Tesco have apologised again to Rachel for any distress caused. And as a result of her being wrongly identified, staff will now be re-trained to make sure they are more thorough before contacting the police about a potential drive-off in the future.


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External links



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books, DVDs, CDs, wine, electrical goods, flowers and much more in Tesco ...

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