Here’s the theory: if a customer has forgotten his/her cheque book/cards and promises to come back later, they will do so unfailingly if you have taken their fingerprints. Furthermore, if you take their fingerprints even when the cards are present, they won’t be engaging in fraudulent practice using duff plastic.

Practice and theory don’t always jive, but here they seem to. I’ve been talking to Thumbs Up Security for the lowdown, prompted by a call from Sue Turnpenny from Whitehall Garage in York who had read about these ‘thumb print kits’ a few months ago but couldn’t get any joy from her crime prevention officer.

These nifty kits give around 1,000 impressions, according to Thumbs Up Security managing director Margaret Reid. She’s already sold thousands and tells me: “We’re getting tremendous feedback from retailers and police. It’s an inkdye pad but a very clean system – you just rub your fingers together and it comes off.”

If you take a look at you will see encouraging statistics such as when the system was introduced in the States, cheque fraud fell by 75 per cent. And when implemented by retailer Serendipity at the Bluewater Shopping Complex in Kent in 2000 all fraudulent transactions ceased. It’s beginning to sound like every forecourt should have one, especially since they are dirt cheap, costing only £3.60. To order, call 01383 727302.