Theft of fuel from Britain’s forecourts cost fuel retailers an estimated £31.4m during 2014 according to the latest Forecourt Crime Statistics Survey from BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate.

Since the last BOSS survey for 2012, losses attributable to drive-offs and no means of payment (NMOP) combined have risen to £31.4m, compared with £24.6m in 2012, an increase of 28% over a period when fuel prices fell by 6%. Although the two surveys are not directly comparable as they were based on different samples of service stations the upward trend is clear. There has been an increase of 6.8% in drive-off losses and NMOP losses have more than doubled.

In 2014 estimated drive-off losses were £21.7m (£20.4m in 2012), while the losses from customers claiming to have no means of payment’ having refuelled were £9.7m (£4.2m in 2012).

The combined drive-off and NMOP loss for the average UK service station in 2014 was £3,600 (£2,800 in 2012).

During the last decade there has been a concerted effort to tackle forecourt crime and BOSS is addressing the problems on several fronts. At a local level, where its established BOSS 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 retailers 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, which is available to all UK service stations, helps 2,100 retailers to recover more than 80% of their financial losses from NMOP incidents. BOSS Payment Watch has multiple benefits of deterring criminal activity, making it easy for motorists to return and pay, pursuing debts from those who do not pay and returning money that is recovered to retailers. Since BOSS Payment Watch was introduced more than £1.5m of NMOP losses has been recovered for retailers.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS, said: “Losses from forecourt crime is at an unacceptable level and during the past 12 months BOSS has taken steps to improve the recording and reporting of incidents. We understand the pressure this type of crime places on police resources but by developing new and improved ways of working between police and retailers we will reduce losses and increase recovery of debts.”

“BOSS has now developed a new initiative to tackle drive-off offenders by proactively pursuing registered keepers whose vehicles are reported as being involved in drive-offs. The new approach is currently undergoing trials and is intended to increase the recovery of losses and - ensure that persistent offenders are brought before the courts.”