22 May 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

Fuel theft, shoplifting ‘financial challenge’ for garages

Increases in fuel theft plus a rise in shoplifting across the UK is costing garages more than £100 million annually, Aftermarket has learned.

Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) executive director Gordon Balmer said data released by the Office for National Statistics on April 25 — showing the surge in shoplifting incidents reaching the highest levels in two decades — plus fuel theft, is “a very real financial challenge” for garages and forecourt operators.

The PRA told Aftermarket its own current figures indicate that, on average, sites currently report more than eight incidents per month.

Fuel taken in no-means-of-paying (NMOP) cases stands at an average of nearly £70.

Around 28% of NMOP drivers pay within four days of declaring they forgot wallets/purses, necessitating follow-up letters and phone calls from garages.

And the average value of fuel taken in drive-off (DO) cases exceeds £50.

The distribution of incidents by type averages at 28% for NMOP and 72% for DO, according to the PRA.

Among DO incidents, 45% of drivers enter the premises after filling up without declaring, while 55% leave the forecourt without entering the shop.

It is estimated that these incidents collectively cost the industry more than £100 million annually.

Balmer said: “Our members are proactively investing in their shops, providing local communities with goods and services to keep them both fed and fuelled.

“However, with the increase in retail crime they are having to take steps to minimise their losses. These include enhanced in-store security, bodycams, and facial recognition software, all aimed at protecting retail premises and staff from criminal activities.”

Balmer said the onus should not be on taxpaying businesses to defend themselves from theft and he called on police to “focus on catching these criminals and show strong support for local retailers”.