Crime is certainly alive and well in the forecourt retailing sector and a scroll through the latest news on our website in the past few months is confirmation of that.

From a serial cross-dressing fuel thief, to exploding cashpoints and attacks on sales assistants, there seems to be no end to the efforts some people will go to in order to get something for nothing, and without sparing a single thought for the victims left behind to deal with the consequences either emotionally, physically or through their bottom line.

Motorists all need fuel whether they’re on their way to work, holiday or to rob a bank, and unfortunately they could all be heading to your forecourt without you knowing which category they fall into.

Which is why the Association of Convenience Stores has seen fit to publish on its website some new guidance on preventing fuel theft, (see News Extra, page 10). Following a retailer survey it estimated that there are 546,000 drive-offs each year, costing the sector around £20m. It also emerged that there were 425,000 incidents a year of ’no means of payment’ with an annual cost to the sector of £11m.

The guidance is a brief but straightforward document for retailers to consider and share with their staff. It is a good complement to the considerable work of BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate, whose ’Payment Watch’ scheme is recommended in the guide.

It is hoped the document will help retailers develop closer relationships with the police.

The guidance is also endorsed by the Home Office pouring cold water on controversial comments made by the hapless former crime prevention minister Norman Baker that forecourts were not doing enough to prevent drive-offs.

All good stuff, but I wonder whether anyone is thinking of producing a manual to prevent fuel laundering plants and theft from underground fuel pipelines? A thicker manual required methinks! Happy Xmas.