Z fuel stations have invested millions of dollars in the past year in technology that could help see drive-off fuel thefts become a thing of the past.

Z has spent $8 million installing a new generation of high definition cameras and new number plate recognition technology, which is being rolled out across the country.

Z spokesperon Jonathan Hill said the company had partnered with software developer Auror on the plate recognition software which could instantly identify repeat offenders and lock pumps before the person could use it.

Mr Hill estimated fuel thefts cost the company up to $2 million each year and early trials carried out at sites around Auckland had reduced theft by 80 per cent.


"We have had cases where a car has come into a site that has done a drive-off before, they've been picked up by the licence plate recognition software, the pump has been locked, they go out, they drive around the block, they go to another pump, the same thing happens. That can happen four times and then they drive away," said Mr Hill

"It's really cool cutting edge software."

The rollout has already begun in Auckland and installations in the Waikato will begin next week and be completed before the end of February. The rollout will be completed by the end of March.

Mr Hill said the technology also has a function that it can notify Police when a stolen or a vehicle of interest comes onto a site.

"That technology is a little way off from being implemented but everything is there to let it happen now," he said.

Mr Hill said those who are locked off from a pump typically just drive away, but there was the occasional case when they won't realise what is happening.

"We had one lady come into a site the other day and her son had been driving the car. The woman came in and we told her how much the vehicle owes. She was horrified to hear this was not a one-off but had happened two or three times. The bill was quite considerable but she paid it and I'm sure the son got a good telling off that evening," he said.

Mr Hill said the majority of the roughly 33,000 drive-offs per year were intentional theft.


"It is a very significant problem.

"We treat everyone of them as theft and notify Police and we have a pretty good rate which we recover but there are a group of people who do this multiple times."

There are 212 Z stations across New Zealand.

Mr Hill said at this point the chance of getting away with a robbery of theft at a Z sight was pretty much nil.

"These cameras are so good there have been a couple of cases recently where we have posted footage of people breaking into our service stations when they are unmanned at night on social media and the response is unbelievable. The quality is so good."