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

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

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 £1.43m to £1.38m with burglary losses also falling from £720,000 to £590,000.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS, said: "BOSS, police forces and the oil industry are working in closer partnership than ever to tackle forecourt crime. We work with 27 police forces throughout the UK, with 127 Forecourt Watch schemes in operation. More than 1,000 retailers have joined our Payment Watch debt recovery scheme."