The level of forecourt crime has increased in the first quarter of 2020, according to the latest Forecourt Crime Index from BOSS – the British Oil Security Syndicate.
After falls in the previous two quarters, the index covering the first quarter (Q1) of 2020 has increased by 13% to 189 (167: Q4 2019).
The Q1 BOSS Index covers the period January to March and incorporates the first two weeks of the coronavirus lockdown period. During the first lockdown weekend (21/22 March) reports of drive-off incidents rose by 21% and then began to fall away as fuel purchases began to fall.
The Q1 2020 BOSS Forecourt Crime Index is based on No Means of Payment (NMoP) incident reports that are made to BOSS Payment Watch, the loss recovery service from BOSS. The total number of incidents reported in Q1 2020 increased by 12.4%. The average number of incidents per site increased to 13.5 incidents per site (11.8: Q4 2019), an increase of 13.6% during the period.
The average litres drawn per incident has risen 4% to 40.2 litres (38.7 litres: Q4 2019). As a result, the average value per incident increased 2.2% to £51.07 (£49.97 per incident: Q4 2019). Fuel prices during Q1 2020 fell by 1.7% to 127ppl (129.2ppl: Q4 2019).
Kevin Eastwood, BOSS executive director, said: “Forecourt crime appears to be one area that has not been affected by the COVID-19 lockdown. The number of forecourt crime incidents has shown a steady increase throughout 2020. The average value of each incident has risen above £50 at a time when fuel prices have fallen.
“When the COVID-19 lockdown began in March, levels of drive-off incident reports recorded by BOSS, initially increased and then fell back. Drive-off incidents have remained 30% below normal level during the lockdown.
“However, the volume of no means of payment incidents has remained consistent with pre-lockdown volumes and some reports suggest they have continued to increase.
“Fuel retailers would be well advised to make forecourt staff aware of the trend and be more vigilant when motorists enter the store and claim to have no means to pay at that time. In the majority of cases this type of incident is a genuine mistake but sadly there remain a significant number of motorists who deliberately attempt to evade paying for fuel.
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 by clicking here.