Just a thought… …fuel theft!

Occassionally I have these thoughts or ideas how it could improve our world, and many of these ideas never see the light of day.  So from now on, when I come up with an idea that I think the UK should implement that would improve a situation, I am going to share it.

Please do not steal ideas, I am not saying these ideas of mine have never been thought of before by someone else, and if this is the case then I apologise, plus if you think one of my ideas is good, then please get in touch, I would like to be involved in its implementation.

My first thought and idea I would like to share with you good people is about our silly fuel prices.  I am not going to go off half-cocked I have done some research to go with this as well… well here goes…

I am sure you must agree that fuel we purchase for our cars, vans, and lorries is expensive and getting more so every day both here in the UK and aboard.

We can continue to argue till we are blue in face that America is convinced that the cost of fuel is much more expensive than others around the world, but when we look at the figures, the UK is one of the most expensive places for fuel (petrol and diesel).

Fuel in the UK is currently £1.35 a litre (that’s approximately $2.15).  If the price of UK fuel was being paid at American pumps that equals $8.13 a US gallon.  This makes the UK the third most expensive country in the world for fuel.

On the other end of the scale the cheapest country for fuel is Venezuela: Caracas — at 2/3p per litre ($0.32) you could fill a 70 litre fuel tank for around £1.50 ($2.40).  While In Britain it would cost you £95.00 ($152.18).

Here is the list of countires around the world which has the most expensive fuel prices.

01 Eritrea $9.579
02 Norway $8.732
03 Britain $8.379
04 The Netherlands $8.368
05 Monaco $8.313
06 Iceland $8.277
07 Belgium $8.224
08 France $8.036
09 Germany $7.864
10 Portugal $7.836
11 Italy $7.731
12 Denmark $7.719
13 U.S. $3.45

Prices are in US Dollars per US Gallon.

Facts and Figures

It is the perfect criminal commodity.

Almost everyone uses it and everyone is feeling the pinch as pump prices tick up past £1.35 a litre – a price point that police say is putting fuel at the heart of a massive black market in the UK.

Thames Valley Police say the increase in forecourt fuel theft – or drive-offs – now account for one third of car related crime in the area.

Superintendent Gilbert Houalla said some petrol stations are being targeted hundreds of times.

“When we do interview people, we arrest them and interview them…we ask why and basically the feedback is that there is a big market for fuel, there is a huge market for fuel,” he said.

With 60% of total fuel price down to taxation, there is plenty of room for thieves to profit, a reality that HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) officers say has lead to a new level of organised crime.


Apart from the price of oil rising, the government imposing tax rises, the cost to franchises around the UK, is impacted further by those people who with either absent mindedness or pure malice, drive off with a tank full of fuel without paying.

This costs the industry thousands every year!

Police and retailers have told the BBC they are seeing an increase in thefts of fuel from forecourts as petrol prices hit record levels.

As well as people driving off without paying, there is also a rise in motorists filling up and then claiming they cannot pay.

West Midlands police have devised guidelines to help station attendants spot potential “bilkers”.

Retailers are joining a debt recovery scheme to reclaim the unpaid money.

In the Small Heath district of Birmingham, Pc Lee Woolman says that each week he has to recover CCTV images of fuel thefts from at least one of the three forecourts in his patch.

Petrol prices rose by 10% in the year to December, and have risen 6p a litre in the past month.

A 2007 study from Australia found that for every 10c (about 6p) rise in a litre of petrol there were 120 extra incidents of theft.

Facts and Figures from Northumbria Police.
The number of crimes recorded as bilking/drive offs in 2010 in 687.


Facts and Figures from West Mercia Police.
Year    No of Offences      Value of Theft
2008    648                        £29,109
2009    967                        £43,988
2010    1031                      £43,923


The Idea

I have an idea which in part is used already in America, and that is to restrict the amount of fuel you are allowed to take purely by the amount you pay.  Making everyone who cannot pay by credit or debit card, must enter the store and pay for the amount of fuel they require before taking it.

Customer wishes to purchase fuel, they have two options:

Option 1:
If fuel is the only item the customer wishes to purchase then they are able to pay at the pump by credit or debit card.  Customer takes fuel and leaves.

Option 2:
If customer is not able to pay by credit or debit card and wishes to pay by cash or the customer requires additional items from the store.  They must enter the store, either pay immediately for fuel by nominating fuel amount £10, £20, £50 etc or they select the additional items they wish to purchase from the store and state they also require fuel of nomination on pump 2.

The store clerk sets Pump 2 to the nominated amount and takes payment.

The customer is provided with a receipt that has a 4-digit code printed on it.  The  customer enters this code into Pump 2, which then displays the amount of fuel they’ve asked for, and customer is allowed to take the fuel.  The pump automatically switches off at the nominated amount, after customer replaces the nozzle they are presented with an additional receipt for the fuel they’ve taken.  Customer leaves.

Using these options will completely eliminate possible drive-offs without payment.  This may in turn reduce the costs for the company and these savings can then be passed on to customers, reducing the cost of fuel.

So there you have it, a possible solution to a problem that is costing thousands every year, that could potentially reduce the cost of fuel.  Although I doubt we will get to 2/3p per litre, although it would be nice, to pay only £1.50 for a tank of fuel.