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Forecourt theft increases as pump prices rise

New statistics show that because of rising prices, UK motorists who fill up their tanks without paying for fuel or claiming that they cannot afford the fuel they have pumped already, are set to cost the industry millions.

Figures supplied by the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) show that the number of drive-off incidents is on the rise, with an increase of 61 per cent in 2022. Commenting on the statistics, Gordon Balmer, the PRA’s executive director explained that if the current rate of these incidents continues for another 12 months, retailers will make a loss of £25 million.

Along with drivers simply leaving the forecourt without attempting to pay, the number of motorists who state that they are not able to pay for the fuel they have put in their vehicle has also spiked. A common excuse is that they have forgotten their wallet at home, but the consequences are costly and amount to a 16 million loss.

If this trend continues, the combination of these two issues adds up to a total loss of £41 million each year for the industry. Balmer recently explained that the issue is complex. Not paying for petrol is considered a civil rather than criminal offence. When the total value of a crime falls short of £100, which is typically the case with petrol station purchases, a police officer will not be sent to attend the incident.

A rise in abuse aimed at forecourt staff has been reported throughout 2022. The rise in petrol prices has been cited as the main reason for the verbal abuse issued by angry motorists. Petrol station bosses have admitted that fuel prices have increased dramatically but have explained that market volatility is largely responsible for pump prices often negatively impacted by when retailers must restock their stations with new supplies.

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