Crime on Britain’s forecourts cost fuel retailers £25.7m in 2012, up from £22.2m in 2010, according to figures revealed in the annual forecourt crime survey carried out by BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate.

Drive-off incidents were responsible for the majority of losses, estimated at £20.4m – up 31% compared with £15.5m in 2010 – with a further £4.2m lost from motorists claiming to have no means of payment (NMoP) who then fail to return to clear their debt.

The combined drive-off and NMoP loss for the average UK service station in 2012 was £2,860, up 28% compared with 2010, partly as a consequence of fuel prices which rose 17.4% in the same period.

BOSS has been working to tackle these threats in several ways. At a local level, it has established Forecourt Watch schemes with local retailers and police, and it says losses have been shown to fall by up to 55%.

On a national level BOSS says its Payment Watch scheme has helped retailers recover more than 80% of their financial losses from NMoP incidents, with the debt collection element recovering more than £500,000 of NMoP losses.

The survey results also showed that in the last two years robbery losses, including attacks on contractors collecting cash or re-stocking cash machines, dropped substantially from £1.43m to £0.67m with burglary losses also falling from £0.72m to £0.48m.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS, said: “BOSS is introducing new technology initiatives to improve our existing schemes and increase support for fuel retailers. We’re launching a new electronic portal to enhance our popular Payment Watch scheme. It will assist retailers to report details of no means of payment incidents more accurately and promptly, improving the chances of recovering the debt.

“It is planned that a similar system, which has already undergone a successful trial with Hertfordshire Constabulary, will be introduced for the reporting of drive-offs to the police.

“These electronic reporting systems will enable accurate and timely submission of incident reports by the retailer, and facilitate swifter and more effective subsequent action by the debt collection agency and police – greatly increasing the opportunity for recovery and early detection of offenders.”