Incidents of unpaid fuel are holding at high levels, but there are signs they are beginning to ease.

BigBrother security

Incidents of unpaid fuel have reached their highest level since the Forecourt Crime Index was introduced in 2015, according to the latest figures from BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate.

The Q3 Forecourt Crime Index has revealed that incidents of unpaid fuel increased by 1.3% (Q2 2023: + 4.7 %) pushing the Forecourt Crime Index to 259.1 in Q3 (256.0: Q2 2023), the highest level since 2015.

Drive-Off-Failure-to-Pay incidents rose 5%, however, on a more positive note, No-Means-of-Payment reports fell 2.6%.

BOSS collates the Forecourt Crime Index from reports of No Means of Payment (NMoP) and Drive-Off-Failure-to-Pay (DO-FP) incidents made to Payment Watch, the unpaid fuel debt recovery service operated by BOSS.

During Q3 the average number of unpaid fuel incidents per site was 30.9 per site (28: Q2 2023) with NMoP incidents accounting for 62% of all Payment Watch reports. The average cost of NMoP incidents was £64.79 (£68.19: Q2 2023), while the average cost of a DO-FP incident fell to £50.98 per incident (£52.51: Q2 2023).

Increases in DO-FP incidents occurred at a time when the cost of fuel began to rise to an average of 153 pence per litre (ppl) for unleaded fuel (145 ppl: Q1 2023). Fuel prices are now at a similar level of Q1 2022.

Litres of fuel taken in DO-FP incidents fell to an average of 33.54 litres per incident (34.32 litres: Q2 2023). The average litres drawn in an NMoP incident fell to 42.02 in Q3 from 43.16 in Q2 to (41.5 litres: Q1 2023).

Bruce Nichol, the operations director at BOSS, said: “Incidents of unpaid fuel are at an unacceptable level. A recent surge in fuel prices has seen Drive-Off-Failure-to-Pay incidents begin to rise at a time when No-Means-of-Payment reports have plateaued and decreased slightly.

“The change has pushed the Forecourt Crime Index to reach record levels. Our Payment Watch debt recovery team is working hard with site operators to check and verify the details of vehicles involved in an unpaid fuel incident and as a result, recovery rates remain high.

“Incidents of unpaid fuel cost UK forecourt operators millions of pounds annually and customers driving away without paying leads to lost revenue and increased operational expenses. We encourage forecourt operators to be vigilant, especially at peak periods when most incidents tend to be reported.”

Forecourt crime reduction guides that help forecourt retailers reduce incidents and keep forecourts safe places to work and shop are available from BOSS.