Cameras set up to stop theft of fuel

Civil servants face regulation 

The Department of Vehicle and Emergency Services has installed cameras at their facility to stop the reported theft of gas costing the department hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In May 2010, representatives from at least three government departments admitted some petrol appeared to have been stolen from the Cayman Islands fuel depot on North Sound during the past few years. 

The exact time of the incidents were not specified, but at least one case led to a criminal investigation, according to Police Commissioner David Baines. 

The issue first came to light during a Public Accounts Committee meeting held in May 2010, which came on the heels of an internal audit by former Cayman Islands Auditor General Dan Duguay outlining the potential for widespread fraud and abuse at the Department, which provides fuel for government vehicles. 

At the time, Mr. Duguay said about 33 per cent or roughly $500,000 of fuel purchases made at the depot between January 2008 and March 2009 were considered “suspicious.” 

However, Director of Vehicle and Emergency Services John Carey said he thought it was unfair and damaging to the morale of the department for Mr. Duguay to paint the picture that everything that was irregular was theft.  

“There are instances where a driver may be filling up for $25 for weeks and then suddenly there is a $50 charge,” Mr. Duguay said. “This can sometimes be due to them carrying a container that needs filling due to circumstances that are truly legitimate. That being said, it is probably safe to assume that some abuses did occur.” 

As a result of the irregularities, members of the Cayman Islands Government’s Finance Committee were told cameras had been installed at the fuel depot and duplicate cards were no longer being issued. 

“We are happy with the way things are going we can monitor the usage of the fuel pumps more effectively and even go back and view data. I can say that their having already been savings,” said Accounts Officer Stephane Delepenah of the Department.  

She said, “Everyone has been behaving extremely well and once cameras up are up it is always a deterrent, especially at night when there was previously no means of monitoring potential abuses.” 

Mr. Carey said the eight cameras monitoring the facility are able to capture licence plates and faces, as well as store data for up to three months. He said if there is stealing it should be dealt with at the departmental levels of government, but when it came to detection, the Department of Vehicle and Emergency Services has responsibility. 

“We can monitor these cameras from anywhere in the world in real time and because we are able to store data, we can also assist in investigations,” Mr. Carey said. 

Mr. Carey said the fuel card system is now user identity-based and will also mitigate the potential for any future abuses of the fuel depot. 

Local Story

The goverment fuel depot is located on North Sound Road. – PHOTO: SUBMITTED

4 COMMENTS

  1. I find it astonishing that it has taken 15 months to address this issue, which was serious enough to trigger a police investigation. What I find more amazing, though, is that the theft of fuel is still seen to be a company perk, and not the criminal offense that it is.

    I’m happy for Mr Carey if he can monitor his cameras from anywhere in the world, bully for him. But what was he thinking when he said that …if there is stealing it should be dealt with at the departmental levels of government? I would suggest to Mr Carey’s boss that he could benefit from a little Ethics 101, and then tell him why we have a police service.

  2. Quote from the Caymanian Compass 6 April 2010 –

    Police Commissioner David Baines was questioned Tuesday during a press conference about whether police were looking into any potential criminal violations with the gas card system.

    What was clearly evidenced (by the internal audit report) was slack management of the system, not criminal use of the cards, Mr. Baines said, adding that police don’t have the time to follow up administrative investigations involving poor management by government departments.

    Mr. Baines has repeatedly refused to comment on whether the police service ever actually conducted a criminal investigation into the fuel cards’ use.

    – I wonder what has changed in the last 15 months?

  3. Hi John,

    Thanks for the comment. You’ve reminded us that the police commissioner changed his tune about a month after this statement. From May 6, 2010:

    Police have begun a criminal investigation into at least one case where fuel may have been fraudulently taken from the Cayman Islands government fuel depot on North Sound Road.

    The probe comes following an internal audit report and a review by Auditor General Dan Duguay that found the potential for widespread fraud and abuse at the North Sound fuel depot, which provides petrol for all government-owned vehicles.

    Mr. Duguay’s report identified about 33 per cent, roughly 500,000, worth of fuel purchases made at the depot between January 2008 and March 2009 that were initially considered suspicious.

    Both former Department of Vehicle and Emergency Services Director Dale Dacres and Police Commissioner David Baines took issue with that estimate. However, neither man denied that some abuse of the government fuel card system had likely occurred.

    Mr. Baines referenced one case specifically within the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service that occurred over a lengthy period. He told the Legislative Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee that the investigation involved some 150 purchases on one fuel card that appeared to be cause for some concern.

    However, Mr. Baines said he regarded statements in Mr. Duguay’s report about suspicious purchases in 33 per cent of all fuel card purchases between January 2008 and March 2009 as insulting to those departments involved in the audit.

    The link to the full story is here:

    http://www.compasscayman.com/caycompass/2010/05/06/Potential-fuel-theft-case-probed/

  4. LOL, I’ve been out-scooped here 🙂

    That story also reports – Mr. Baines said the current system was overly bureaucratic and focused on the monitoring of vehicles, not on purchases and use of fuel.

    How things have changed in a few short months…

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