As 2013 gets under way it’s a good time to reflect on the past year and look forward to developments coming in the next 12 months.

An emerging problem that gained public attention last year was bulk fuel theft. These incidents in which criminals steal thousands of litres from underground storage tanks are not common but, for the retailers concerned, can involve devastating losses.

Only last month a site in Yeovil suffered the theft of more than 17,500 litres of fuel in the early hours when the site was closed. BOSS shares data and intelligence on this issue with police forces and we’re fast learning lessons. It’s clear that non-24-hour sites are the most vulnerable, but relatively simple upgrades can be a significant deterrent to potential thieves. These include simple measures such as securing access to tank fill points, and improving CCTV and lighting to cover tank manholes.

We’re also working with police and the Crown Prosecution Service to crack down hard on offenders who repeatedly claim to have ’no means to pay’ for fuel. Last year BOSS identified more than 200 of these individuals and their cases are being investigated or actively pursued by police, or processed prior to referral. More than 20 have been arrested and charged, so justice is catching up with them. Drive-off offenders are also being prosecuted. In November, one offender pleaded guilty to several counts of driving off without paying and was sentenced to a six-month supervision order and 120 hours of community service. Hopefully, many more prosecutions will follow.

BOSS is bringing technology to bear in pursuit of criminals. To strengthen our existing Forecourt Watch and Payment Watch schemes, we’re working on the development of a nationwide database of registration marks of all vehicles known to be associated with incidents of non payment. Retailers will be able to link their ANPR systems to this database, giving them immediate warning if a vehicle on the database enters their site. In such cases site staff will have the option of requiring pre-payment from the motorist.

We’ve also successfully expanded the trial of our Electronic Reporting System (ERS), which lets retailers report incidents and submit supporting evidence, including video, to police instantly using an online portal.