Fuel stations across North Tyneside are gearing up for a new initiative to halt fuel thefts supported by Northumbria Police.

Fourteen filling stations have so far signed up to join Forecourt Watch, the crime fighting scheme operated by the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), which alerts police and informs customers the site is a scheme member. The borough is the first in the force area to adopt the scheme.

Prominent police and BOSS-branded forecourt signage has been placed in participating garages and on fuel pumps to make customers and potential thieves aware of the scheme. Stickers remind motorists to make sure they have the means to pay before filling up.

Between January 2011 and the end of February 2012 there were 41 thefts of fuel reported to police by garage forecourts in North Tyneside after motorists drove off without paying.

Chief inspector Steve Readdie of North Tyneside Area Command said: “As the price of fuel continues to go up stealing fuel becomes increasingly attractive and is hitting garages. By joining the BOSS Forecourt Watch scheme we aim to reduce this type of theft. Garage staff are supporting this initiative by taking details of vehicles which drive off without paying and swiftly passing the information to police so we can locate them.

“This is another example of partnership working to help us reduce crime and catch offenders. Motorists should be reassured by the posters that staff are working with police to reduce these thefts.”

Dave Young, BOSS regional co-ordinator for the north east, said: “We’re pleased to be launching a new partnership with Northumbria Police. Drive-off incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £15m 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 as well as bringing offenders to justice.

“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.”

David Richardson, a Shell petrol station manager, said: “Shell are pleased to be part of the Forecourt Watch scheme which will help us to reduce the theft of fuel from our forecourts.”

Forecourts who join the scheme also share information about rogue vehicles who have taken fuel without paying, to alert other members to the problem. Details of vehicle registrations are given to police, so further action can be taken.