The British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) has recorded a significant reduction in forecourt crime reports during the first full weekend of the coronavirus lockdown.

The news comes as BOSS releases the results of the latest Forecourt Crime Index covering the final quarter (Q4) of 2019 which reported that forecourt crime continued to decline during the second half of 2019, with the BOSS Index falling 7% during Q4 2019 to 158, compared with 170 in the previous quarter.

In response to the coronavirus crisis BOSS has been monitoring changes in drive-off incidents. During the first weekend (21/22 March) reports of drive-off incidents rose by 21%, but early reports for the first full weekend (28/29 March) of the coronavirus crisis lockdown have seen the number of drive-off incident reports fall by 31%. However, incidents where large containers are being filled and fuel taken not paid for is increasing.

The Q4 2019 BOSS Forecourt Crime Index is based on no means of payment (NMoP) incident reports that are made to BOSS as part of BOSS Payment Watch, the loss recovery service from BOSS. The total number of incidents reported in Q4 2019 declined 6.5%. The average number of incidents per site also dropped to 11.2 incidents per site (12.1: Q3 2019), a fall of 7.1 %.

The average litres drawn per incident has risen 2.3% to 38.8 litres (37.9 litres: Q3 2019). As a result the average value per incident increased 1.3% to £50.06 (£49.43 per incident: Q3 2019). Fuel prices during Q4 2019 fell by 1.0% to 129.1ppl (130.4ppl: Q3 2019).

Kevin Eastwood, BOSS executive director, said: “Our priority remains the health and safety of everyone involved in the forecourt sector and following the introduction of the Government lockdown measures our anticipated fall in the number of incident reports has occurred.

“We are concerned about a rise in reports of motorists filling containers of various sizes. These actions are potentially very dangerous, particularly where petrol is involved, and where non-approved containers are used it is likely to be illegal. We would encourage forecourt staff to be aware and watch out for any unusual activity involving such behaviour.

“Recent events have overtaken the results of the final quarter of 2019, which saw the hard efforts of forecourt operators reduce incidents of forecourt crime, but fuel retailers, on average, are still losing more than £2,000 per site annually from NMoP incidents.

“Forecourt operators should continue to follow public health guidance and ensure that their site operating procedures take account of social distancing guidelines and be compliant with Government COV-19 guidelines.”