Grampian Police has joined forces with the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) and independent retailers to introduce Forecourt Watch in Aberdeen in a bid to reduce drive-offs in the area.

The Aberdeen scheme, being rolled out at eight key sites in the district, is the latest addition to some 70 schemes already operating throughout the UK.

Commenting on the introduction of the scheme, which was officially launched at the Shell Don service station, King Street, Aberdeen last week, chief inspector George Macdonald said: “Forecourt Watch is being launched to tackle the issue of drive-off thefts from garage forecourts in Aberdeen.

“Grampian Police will deal with those who carry out these types of theft in a robust manner and this initiative should send out a clear message that thefts from petrol stations will not be tolerated.

“These incidents are often linked to other road traffic offences such as car theft and Grampian Police will support any initiative which aims to tackle these issues within our communities.”

Jim Anderson, BOSS regional co-ordinator, added: “Drive-off incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £14m last year. By building successful partnerships with local police, petrol retailers and other agencies through initiatives such as the BOSS Forecourt Watch schemes, we are able to deter and prevent crime on service station forecourts.

“Our aim is to maintain fuel stations as a safe environment for customers and staff, targeting those people who drive off without paying for their fuel and use service stations as a route to commit more serious crimes. This new scheme is an important building block in what we hope will be a network of Forecourt Watches covering the Aberdeen area. BOSS appreciates the cooperation of Grampian Police in this partnership initiative to drive down forecourt crime.”

Research shows that offences of driving off without paying for fuel are often linked to offenders or vehicles involved in other types of crime and to disqualified drivers, those without insurance, tax or MOT, or vehicles with false number plates.

BOSS Forecourt Watch documentation for the recording and notifying of drive-off incidents will be provided to staff at all forecourts taking part in the scheme. This enables fuel service stations to work in conjunction with police and BOSS to help bring offenders to justice.

High visibility stickers and posters on the forecourt itself will raise awareness among customers and potential thieves that Forecourt Watch is in operation and that making off without payment is a criminal offence.

Service stations registered with the scheme will also benefit from sharing information with police and each other on suspects, vehicles and known offenders – to maximise disruption and detection of offences.