KOCHI: Over the past few years, petrol stations in the state have become easy targets for robbers. Data available with the police reveals that the state is registering an average of at least two cases per day. In the latest major incident, on Sunday, a gang stole Rs 35,667 from a petrol bunk near North Kalamassery. Though the CCTV captured the image of the robbers, the police are yet to nab the culprits.
“Around 2.30am on April 13, 2021, robbers came to my fuel station and left with the money that was kept inside the office. Their faces were covered, and the registration number of the vehicle was not visible. We are helpless as these people are ready to go to any extent,” said Ajith Kumar G, an employee of a petrol pump in Palakkad, who had to face the robbers.
A petrol pump attendant was robbed by two bike-borne men in Alappuzha last year. In 2016, a huge amount was stolen from a petrol pump at Chakkaraparambu in Kochi. A two-member gang on a limited edition new generation motorcycle, with a folded number plate, made off with the money which an employee had stored in his bag. It took nearly two years for the police to crack the case. The accused had targeted petrol pumps in Aluva and Kodakara in a similar manner on the same night, after the Chakkaraparambu robbery.
In another incident that happened in Aluva on August 9, 2017, near the KSRTC station, a five-member gang stole `5.8 lakh from a petrol station in the early hours. The robbers, who were later arrested by the police, committed the crime to fund their travel plans, interrogation revealed.
Though the number of cases is shooting up each day, the police are yet to provide security cover for petrol stations. Apart from causing financial loss, robbery also puts the lives of employees, most of whom suffer from some kind of health issues, at risk. Though the modus operandi was to target petrol stations located in isolated places, the robbers are now targeting those in crowded areas too.
“Yet, the culprits who were earlier caught by the police continue to roam freely,” said Abdul Rahiman, general secretary, All Kerala Federation of Petroleum Traders. “Despite the chief minister’s assurances that we would be safe, it remains a pipe dream. How can we run the business if the robbers steal the money? The state government should declare such crimes non-bailable offences. Steps should also be taken to link the CCTV systems of petrol stations to police stations.”
On average, two cases being reported in the state on a daily basis
Providing protection need of the hour
Chief minister’s assurance to link CCTV cameras with local police stations remains a distant dream
The Federation of Petroleum Traders wants the crime to be treated as non-bailable offence
The federation plans to shut down petrol stations if government does not act against robbers