The scale of drive-offs has been highlighted in new Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com from police forces across the UK, which reveals that motorists committed 25,560 fuel thefts in 2015 alone.
According to the findings nearly one in 10 (8%) of drivers admitted to filling up their car with petrol and driving off without paying. And it appears that fuel retailers in the West Midlands have been hardest hit in the past 12 months, as the West Midlands police recorded 4,027 occurrences of motorists ‘pumping and running’. West Yorkshire Police weren’t too far behind with reports of 3,825 drivers making off without paying. Next came Thames Valley with 3,300 instances.
Not all fuel thefts were intentional, with the majority of people who’d driven off without paying appearing to have done it accidentally (74%). And of those who had done so accidentally, nearly two-fifths (38%) said they were distracted at the time. While others (17%) had forgotten to pay.
But many drivers are happy to ‘pump and run’ with more than one in 10 (12%) having made a conscious decision to do so as they had no means of paying.
Of those drivers who had gone off without paying for their fuel, a fifth (20%) were contacted by the police to ensure they paid their bill. Almost one in six (16%) drivers were fined for not paying their bill. And nearly one in 10 (9%) were charged with theft.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, said: “It’s quite worrying to find out how many people across the UK have filled up their vehicle and driven off without paying for their fuel – over 25,000 motorists in 2015 alone. And it’s even more shocking to see that some motorists intentionally commit petrol theft.”