A number of UK petrol station owners have installed a £10,000 anti "drive-away" stinger system designed to discourage ne'er-do-wells from making off with fuel without paying, the Telegraph reports.
The Drivestop was designed by Jaginda Singh, whose family-owned fuel outlet was almost brought to financial ruin by such incidents - increasingly common since the price of petrol has gone through the roof.
The Drivestop package - currently gracing ten forecourts across the land - includes warning signs, audio system and traffic lights to make it absolutely clear to the perp that his tyres are about to be shredded. Should he ignore the portents of imminent deflation, steel spikes rise from the ground and bring him to a halt within 20 seconds.
And if he is able to hobble away on the rims, the system also embeds a tag bearing an ID number into the rubber, allowing cops to later identify the combustible-lifter. The firm insists that the system is completely legal, and that it had consulted all the relevant authorities as it was it was being developed.
The Drivestop appears to offer the required deterrent effect. Mukesh Patel, owner of a petrol station near Finsbury Park, north London, had lost more than £5k in drive-aways before installing the system last month. He said: "More people are attempting it with the high cost of fuel and we have been getting at least one a week. But since the notices about the spikes went up last month, there haven't been any drive-aways."
In fact, only one foolhardy soul has to date taken on the Drivestop - a car thief who managed a post-deflation 100 yards in Eltham, south east London, before abandoning the vehicle. ®