Analytical Instrumentation

  • How Prevalent is Fuel Theft?

How Prevalent is Fuel Theft?

Sep 16 2019 Read 315 Times

According to official police figures gathered via Freedom of Information requests from Crown Oil, 99% of fuel theft crimes fly under the radar, leaving British petrol stations to feel the sting. In 2018, police reported more than 25,000 cases of fuel theft, which cost victims an estimated £9 million.

“These findings confirm our suspicions: fuel theft occurs far too often across the country and costs businesses and individuals alike millions of pounds a year," says Matt Greensmith, Managing Director of Crown Oil, one of the largest nationwide fuel, oil and lubricant suppliers in the UK. "The nature of the crime often means a reported theft will go unpunished,” he adds.

Greater London petrol stations at highest risk of fuel theft

Greater London was one of the worst-hit regions, with local petrol stations reporting almost 13,000 thefts. This represents a loss or around £1.1 million. West Yorkshire suffered from the second highest number of fuel thefts, with a total of 4123 reported cases. Bradford is another hotspot, with one station targeted 244 times over the past three years. Of these, just one person was charged with fuel theft. Motorists filling up the tank and leaving without paying was the most common scenario, accounting for 80% of all reported crimes.

Experts advise investment in security technologies

While the figures reflect a year-on-year decrease of 11% from 2017 statistics, experts warn the true figure could be much higher. Responding to the data, Crown Oil is advising petrol retailers to invest in advanced security infrastructure designed to target fuel thieves. This includes high resolution CCTV and license plate scanners. One of the major problems encountered by both petrol stations and police is difficulty identifying suspects, an issue that could be addressed with more stringent security.

"Detecting offences of this kind is reliant upon, in most cases, good quality CCTV to identify offenders or the registration number of a vehicle," says a spokesman for West Yorkshire Police. "If either of these are not available there are very few additional lines of enquiry."

While police are concerned with fuel thefts, environmentalists are targeting sulphur content in fossil fuels, which can release harmful sulphur oxides into the air via exhaust gases released as a by-product of combustion. For a closer look at the new technologies being used to monitor sulphur compounds, don't miss 'Analysis of Sulphur in Light Hydrocarbons According to ASTM D5623 Using Shimadzu's SCD-2030,' which introduces the Nexis SCD-2030.

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