Claire Nichol-BOSS executive director

BOSS executive director Claire Nichol

The latest Forecourt Crime Index from BOSS (British Oil Security Syndicate) has equalled its highest recorded level as incidents of unpaid fuel increased by 14.6% during the first quarter of 2022.

During the quarter fuel prices increased a further 10.5% to an average of 161ppl, leading BOSS to estimate that forecourt fuel crime costs the average forecourt site more than £4,700 in annual lost revenue.

During the three months to 31 March 2022 (Q1 2022) the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index increased to 199 (174: Q4 2021), equalling the record level set in Q1 2020 when fuel prices peaked at 128ppl. The index collates reports of no means of payment (NMoP) and drive-off incidents made to BOSS Payment Watch, the specialist forecourt fuel loss recovery service.

During Q1 2022 NMoP incident reports accelerated by 17% (-3.4%: Q4 2021) and have increased 42% since the same period in 2021. Drive-off incidents also continued their upward trend, increasing 10.5% (-9.5%: Q4 2021) during the quarter. Drive-off incident reports have increased by 48% increase since Q1 2021.

The average number of incidents per site increased to 20.3 (17.7: Q4 2021). NMoP incidents account for 65% of all reports and cost forecourt retailers on average £65.73 per incident, while the average drive-off loss was £47.41 per incident.

Claire Nichol, the executive director at BOSS, said: “When prices began to rise during early spring, we saw an unusual spike in incident reports. While this momentum has eased recently, overall, reported incidents are 37% higher in Q1 2022 than they were in Q1 2021.

“Yet again, more motorists are claiming to have no means to pay for fuel. It is more than an occasional excuse and is by far the largest type of unpaid fuel incident being reported to BOSS. Drive-off incidents are also rising, up nearly 50% during the last 12 months.

“Unpaid fuel direct affects the profitability and viability of forecourt operators. We’d encourage all forecourt retailers to carefully record information about drivers and the vehicles involved in incidents of unpaid fuel. The more reliable information is, the more successful we are in collecting unpaid fuel payments.”