Tesco ‘fuel thief’ gets threatening letter from police – but did nothing wrong

A man who did nothing wrong but was accused of being a thief by the police and Tesco has branded the situation as "ridiculous".

Paul Patterson, 57, a bus driver from Highbury Vale, Nottingham was shocked to get a letter from Nottinghamshire Police through his letterbox, purporting that he filled up his car's fuel tank and sped off.

He paid £22 in total, £20 for his petrol and £2 in the shop at the Tesco Esso petrol station in Valley Road, Basford, at around 3pm on October 3.

But, to his dismay, he later received a letter from Nottinghamshire Police saying he was believed to have filled his car up with £35.22 worth of fuel before driving off without paying, NottinghamshireLive reports.

During his visit to the station, he drove back round into the forecourt to wait for his wife who was doing the shopping, before the pair drove off – leading to the mix up for which Tesco has now apologised.

Despite the apology, Mr Patterson is fuming. He said: "They have got it completely wrong.

"I only found out about it when I got a letter from the force headquarters. If I had paid cash, which I nearly did and often do, and not taken a receipt, I would have had no way of prove I had paid for it."

He added: "I hadn't done anything wrong and I was being accused of being a thief. It's ridiculous."

Tesco made an error while looking at CCTV, and it turned out that it was the driver in front of Mr Patterson who made the great escape.

But Tesco said that Mr Patterson also pulled his car away from the pump before completing payment.

Later, the supermarket giant clarified that Mr Patterson did not leave the forecourt but that when CCTV footage was initially checked it looked like it was Mr Patterson who hadn't paid.

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Mr Patterson explained that he didn't want to wait at the pump while his wife finished the shopping because he would have held other drivers up.

So instead he drove away and back into the forecourt to wait.

"I went back to the garage and showed them that I had paid them on my phone," said Mr Patterson.

"It just so happens that I had proof of payment."

Police Constable Adam Francis, from Nottinghamshire Police, said: "When we receive reports of an alleged crime it is our duty to investigate.

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"In line with standard procedure, a letter was sent to the registered keeper of the vehicle providing details of the alleged offence and asking who the driver was on this specific date and time.

"Following enquiries it was established no criminal offences were committed and the matter was resolved."

A Tesco spokesman said: "We’re really sorry this happened. A car left our Valley Road petrol filling station without paying and initially, a mistake was made when identifying the vehicle involved.

"Once the error was identified, we immediately apologised to the customer for the mix-up."

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