Forecourt operators are being warned to be extra vigilant following a surge in the number of drive-off and no means of payment (NMoP) incidents since fuel prices shot up at the beginning of March.
According to BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate there has been a 215% increase in reports of drive-off and NMoP incidents for the first week of March, compared with the first week of December.
As a result, BOSS is advising forecourt operators to be extra vigilant during peak periods and make sure that they retain accurate information about vehicles involved in driving away from a forecourt without paying for fuel or motorist claiming to have no means of payment for fuel.
The number of litres of unpaid fuel in the first week of March also increased by 68% during the same period. However, the average number of litres per incident fell from 55 litres in December to 41 litres in March.
BOSS has also received reports about some motorists using large containers to draw and store fuel.
It said: “The use of non-certified containers is both illegal and highly dangerous and should not be allowed to take place. In one instant a small compact car was reported to have drawn 128 litres of petrol.”
Claire Nichol, managing director at BOSS, said: “High fuel prices make not paying for fuel more attractive to criminals and we’ve seen the number reports about unpaid fuel increase significantly in recent weeks.
“The fall in litres-taken per incident suggests that motorists who deliberately evade paying for fuel are nervous about filling up completely as it might draw attention to their actions.
“We’d advise forecourt operators to be extra vigilant during peak periods. They should also retain any CCTV recordings and ensure that information about vehicles involved in either driving away from a forecourt without paying for fuel, or a motorist claiming to have no means of payment for fuel, is accurate.
“Should the number of incidents continue to rise, we could see the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index reach the highest level since records were introduced.”
Common warning signals when a vehicle is parked at a pump and a crime might be about to occur include:
- Driver still at the wheel; passenger filling up
- Open doors or open boot
- Number plates hidden or appear altered
- Lights of the vehicle still switched on
- Vehicle parked facing away from the kiosk towards an exit
- Customer trying to hide behind their own or another vehicle when filling up
Forecourt crime reduction guides that help forecourt retailers to reduce incidents and keep forecourts safe places to work and shop are available from BOSS. A free copy of the BOSS Drive-Off Prevention guide can be downloaded from the BOSS website at https://bossuk.org/guidance