Lee Nicholls, who runs St.Matthews Service Station in Leicester, has a novel way of dealing with customers who fill up then say they cannot pay - he uses an £8 ink pad to take their thumb prints.

Lee, with the backing of local police, now takes non-payers’ prints plus their names and addresses. If they do not return within 24 hours, their prints and details are passed to police

"I’ve taken over 100 prints and only three people have not returned. I don’t know why other people don’t do it," he said.

But the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) is not happy. Director Kevin Eastwood said the method could lead to confrontations with staff.