A recent BOSS survey found that forecourt crime is still a major issue for retailers. While drive-offs are the main problem, the number of customers claiming to have ’No means to pay’ once they’ve refuelled has risen considerably. Our Payment Watch scheme was designed to help retailers recover money from these motorists. Some, however, never pay and a number of repeat offenders have been identified.

BOSS is working with the police, targeting people who act in this way, and more than 40 cases have already been referred for criminal investigation, with a further 25 on the way.

The response of police forces to motorists who systematically draw fuel, never intending to pay, differs from force to force.

However, BOSS has obtained the support of the Crown Prosecution Service in some areas and is prepared to challenge any suggestion that such repeated actions represent civil debt rather than crime. This has already happened in several cases, resulting in the arrest of suspects.

Successful prosecution requires evidence and BOSS’s carefully designed ’No means to pay’ forms give retailers a template to provide a complete and accurate record of what happened. In an effort to improve the quality of the evidence, to aid prosecution and recover money, participating retailers can assist by ensuring that all the relevant information is recorded.

A properly completed form includes:

l vehicle details;

l the full name and address of the subject;

l ID, with any provided recorded on the documentation;

l A signature the form MUST be signed, to make the debt enforceable.

Motorists are indebted to the retailer, who has a right to the information on the form.

CCTV/stills of subjects should be retained so they can form part of the evidence. If you know the person has done it before, consider phoning the police.

If in doubt don’t authorise the pump and insist on pre-payment. To assist retailers BOSS will shortly be circulating a list of suspect vehicles/people to BOSS Payment Watch members to help with crime prevention. More than 1,000 service stations are already using Payment Watch so don’t delay, consider joining today.