About 99 per cent of fuel thefts go unpunished according to new research that indicates the cost to victims is about £9m per year.
The most common form of fuel theft was drivers leaving petrol station forecourts without paying, accounting for around 80 per cent of reported criminal activity.
The data comes from a Freedom of Information request by Crown Oils, which received statistics from 23 of the 45 police forces it contacted. Of the forces that responded, London’s Metropolitan Police saw the highest value of fuel stolen last year at more than £1.1m.
From the data it received, there were 25,614 confirmed fuel thefts in 2018, equating to more than £1.75m lost to victims of crime. Using these figures to account for the forces that didn’t respond, the cost to businesses and domestic users could be more than £9 million.
It’s not all bad news, though, as the figures revealed a drop in the number of reported fuel thefts of 11 per cent from 2017 to 2018.
Crown Oils says that just 1.3 per cent of fuel thefts result in a charge, with such low numbers of prosecution largely down to not being able to identify a suspect. It urges forecourts to “invest in security infrastructures such as licence plate readers and higher resolution CCTV that will be able to mitigate the occurrences of theft”.
The region with the highest number of fuel thefts in 2018 was Greater London with 13,799, more than triple West Yorkshire, which was the next highest with 4,123. The Port of Dover has the best record, with no fuel thefts between 2016 and 2018, while police in Dyfed-Powys saw thefts almost double in the same period, from 274 to 542.