Criminals who fill up with fuel and drive off without paying are the target of a new scheme launched by police and industry partners.

North Wales Police and Conwy Community Safety Partnership have joined forces with the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) and independent retailers to introduce Forecourt Watch throughout the Conwy county area.

Forecourt Watch creates a closer link between police, BOSS and retail staff to increase awareness, prevention and the reporting and recording of incidents. Service station staff will take details of any vehicle which drives off without paying and will swiftly pass the information to police.

The scheme in North Wales, which has been rolled out at a number of key sites throughout Conwy county, is the latest addition to around 126 schemes which are already operating throughout the UK.

Inspector Julie Sheard from North Wales Police Community Safety Department said: “Fuel theft is not a victimless crime and has an impact on consumers, retailers and the police. As the price of fuel continues to rise, stealing it becomes increasingly attractive and is hitting garages.

“We are pleased to be working with BOSS to tackle forecourt crime, which has a huge financial impact and is also linked to other type of offences. This is yet another example of partnership working to help us reduce crime and catch offenders.”

BOSS estimates that overall forecourt crime throughout Britain, excluding credit card fraud, cost the oil retailing industry more than £23 million a year.

Executive director at BOSS, Kevin Eastwood, added: “We’re pleased to be launching this new scheme with North Wales Police. Drive-off incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £16 million 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.”

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.

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