£36m worth of fuel is stolen from forecourts each year, according to new statistics

Petrol retailers have joined forces with the government and police to tackle the £36m worth of fuel thefts that blight the industry each year.

New guidelines issued by the Home Office Forecourt Crime Steering Group focus on what workers can look out for to prevent drive-offs, and how to deal with no means of payment offences when motorists claim they are unable to pay for fuel.

Some £36m worth of fuel is stolen from forecourts each year, with each store seeing three to four incidents a week on average, according to figures released by the ACS.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said retailers made “every effort to prevent fuel theft from their sites by investing in CCTV, automatic number plate recognition and staff training”.

“We hope the guidance we have produced will support retailers to prevent fuel theft and help them build closer relationships with the police to catch offenders and deter others from trying,” he said.

The new guidelines were developed by representatives from business and industry, policing and law enforcement, and the voluntary sector.

Fuel theft “harms businesses, consumers and communities”, said minister for vulnerability, safeguarding and countering extremism, Sarah Newton MP.

“With the help of the police, we are improving the law enforcement response to support fuel retailers, clamp down on thieves and bring offenders to justice,” said Newton.

The Conservative MP for Truro and Falmouth added the Home Office was working with industry partners and fuel retailers to understand the nature of the crime, and its cost for retailers.

The Petrol Retailers Association was one of the industry bodies that formed part of the steering group. Its chairman, Brian Madderson, said he was encouraged to see “the practical and realistic efforts by the government, industry and the police to find new ways of combating the rise in forecourt crime”.

Teresa Sayers, chief executive of the Downstream Fuel Association, added: “DFA members, including four major supermarkets, welcome the opportunity to work closely with the all parties to clamp down on these drive off and non-payment offences.”