Crime on Britain’s forecourts cost fuel retailers £23.4 million in 2011, up from £22.5 million in 2010, according to figures revealed in the annual forecourt crime survey carried out by BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate.

The main source of the estimated total loss is £16.2 million resulting from ‘drive-off’ incidents – compared to £15.5 million in 2010 – with a further £4.6 million lost from motorists claiming to have ‘no means of payment’ (NMoP) who then fail to return to clear their debt – up slightly from £4.5 million.

The combined drive-off and NMoP loss for the average UK service station in 2011 compared with the previous year rose 7% in cash terms despite an estimated fall of 10% in the number of litres stolen, a consequence of fuel prices which rose 16% between 2010 and 2011.

The survey results also showed that robbery losses, including attacks on contractors collecting cash or re-stocking cash machines, dropped slightly from £1.43 million to £1.38 million with burglary losses also falling from £0.72 million to £0.59 million. With robbery there is the added risk of personal injury because it involves violence or the threat of it.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS, says: “BOSS, police forces and the oil industry are working in closer partnership than ever to tackle forecourt crime. We currently work with 27 police forces throughout the UK with 127 Forecourt Watch schemes in operation. More than 1,000 fuel retailers have joined our Payment Watch debt recovery scheme which is fast becoming the industry standard. The combined efforts of all agencies involved contributed to a fall in the volume of fuel stolen last year, and these efforts will continue as we develop new technologies and initiatives to advance our campaign to fight crime on forecourts.”

Eastwood said BOSS is addressing forecourt crime problems on several fronts: at a local level, where its established Forecourt Watch schemes are operating successfully, losses have been shown to fall by up to 55%. These schemes are initiated by BOSS on behalf of its members and help to forge productive working relationships between retailers and local police to ensure swift and efficient detection of forecourt crime.

On a national level the BOSS Payment Watch scheme, available to BOSS members and independent associate members alike, is helping retailers to recover more than 80% of their financial losses from NMoP incidents. The Payment Watch scheme has the multiple benefits of deterring such activity, making it easy for motorists to pay, collecting debts from those who do not and returning money to retailers when incidents do occur. To date the debt collection element alone has recovered over £300,000 worth of NMoP losses.