plaistow site

Top 50 Indie Plaistow Broadway Filling Stations is training staff to be more observant when it comes to who is filling up with fuel on their sites.

The company’s area manager, Sharon Hughes, says crime rates vary across their portfolio of six sites, especially as they are in different types of location, but she says crime is generally up.

“At our New Forest site, for example, it’s a local community site. The majority of non-payments there are genuine. If it’s a local guy who lives around the corner, he’s forgotten to pay for fuel, and he normally comes back.”

However, that’s not the case across all the sites and Sharon says cases of non-payment have definitely risen recently.

“When we have an incident, I immediately find out from my site manager whether it’s a non-payment or drive off? If it is a non-payment – and I have noticed that they’ve started to increase – I look at our staff training and what we can do to help prevent these.

“I like to remind all of our cashiers that we play a part in remembering to ask customers if they’ve had fuel, after all, they are the ones that are authorizing the pumps at the till. Part of their job is to try and memorise something about the customer. Maybe they are wearing a yellow jacket, and when they come into the shop, they hopefully think ‘yellow jacket bought fuel’. The first thing they need to say is ‘ Do you have any fuel today?’

“And we refresh this training all the time because being a cashier, doing the same thing every day, can get a bit mundane, and sometimes you forget if you’re busy, so it’s about prompting them more frequently. And even leaving little messages on the front of the till reminding them to ask about fuel.”

For drive-offs, Plaistow Broadway uses Forecourt Eye, but Sharon says she is currently trying to balance whether it’s actually worth it: “That’s because the system is only any good if the number plate is genuine. The biggest problem we’ve got is people using fake plates, which aren’t recognised.”

However, Sharon tries to get staff to do their bit when it comes to preventing drive-offs too. “I try and get staff to make a note of a vehicle that’s driven off without paying because sometimes there might be something distinct about it. It could be a van with a red stripe. It’s good to make other staff aware, especially at change of shift, that someone maybe put £100 of fuel in the vehicle in the morning and they might try their luck in the afternoon or later in the week.”

Sharon says it’s also vital to know who you are authorising to put fuel in a vehicle. She says if till staff don’t have a clear view of the person about to fill up, they can ask a member of staff on the shop floor to go and double check. Or if it’s a smaller site with fewer staff, they can ask the customer to identify themselves via the speaker system to make sure they are not under-age, for example. “It’s our duty to check,” she said.

Unfortunately, the New Forest site has been the victim of a couple of break-ins recently, within a matter of weeks. Luckily the site was closed at both times. Sharon believes both break-ins were done by the same people, who stole cigarettes and vapes.

“Both times they got in through the back door, but the second time they broke into the office and tried to steal things. They did quite a lot of damage

“I definitely think people have got braver; they’re willing to cause more damage. Someone who broke in recently went to one of our safes. They couldn’t get into it, but they went at it quite heavily with a pickaxe.

Sharon said, however, that her main concern is making sure staff are safe. The company constantly assesses its security measures and has procedures in place to ensure staff safety such as making sure they aren’t opening up on their own.