- Some 39,500 drivers between July and September left without paying for fuel
- This is a 77% increase compared to the same period in 2022, and a 362% increase compared to 2019.
- The RAC Foundation says the increase could be due to “systematic criminal activity”
Figures show the number of fuel thefts at petrol stations across Britain has soared this year.
Gas station owners have attempted to locate 39,563 drivers who left without paying for fuel between July and September.
This represents an increase of 77 percent compared to the 22,335 cases investigated during the same period in 2022, and 362 percent over the total of 8,558 in those three months of 2019, according to data obtained by the RAC Foundation.
The automobile group says that The increase could be due to “systematic criminal activity.”
Fuel thefts soar: Service station operators have attempted to trace the identity of almost 40,000 vehicle owners who have walked away without paying for petrol or diesel. This is 77% more than in 2022.
The figures refer to the number of requests made to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) by service station operators requesting details of a vehicle’s owner after having captured the registration number on dash cams. CCTV.
Most incidents are likely to involve theft, also known as a “scam”, where someone fills up your vehicle with no intention of paying and then drives away.
The British Oil Security Syndicate (or BOSS), which campaigns to reduce crime at service stations, estimates that this practice costs each service station across the country an average of £10,500 each a year.
The maximum penalty for drivers convicted of fleeing without paying – an offense under the Theft Act 1978 – is two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “Among all the recent media attention to the shoplifting epidemic, we should probably not be surprised to find that the theft of petrol and diesel at service stations appears to be a big and growing problem. And these numbers may only indicate a much bigger problem.
‘While it may be that the cost of living crisis is tempting some people to take the risk of leaving without paying, the real headache for fuel suppliers is whether this is a sign of more systematic criminal activity.
“The message to anyone tempted to rip off the gas station should be ‘don’t fill up if you can’t pay’, because getting caught is a real possibility, and the financial losses for businesses ultimately lead to higher prices.” high for all of us.
The scale of the shoplifting epidemic seen in 2023 has been such that bosses at almost 90 retailers, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Boots, were forced to join forces to call for a crackdown on the wave of crime sweeping the streets of Britain.
All 88 businesses, which also include WH Smith, Aldi, Primark and Superdrug, have written to the Government demanding action as shoplifting spirals out of control.
Brazen thieves have frequently been caught on camera brazenly stealing – in cases attacking staff – and retail bosses claim they are powerless to stop the criminals.
The RAC Foundation released petrol and diesel theft figures shortly after fuel price inspectors raised the alarm that retailers continue to pocket higher margins per liter than they should.
On October 31, petrol across the UK averaged 154.5 pence per liter, having been at 157.1 pence on October 1, the AA said.
While October’s drop ended four months of rising fuel prices for motorists, the small drop of 2.5 liters in one month compares with a further reduction in wholesale costs of at least 5p a liter .
Similarly, diesel at 161.4 pence per liter compares with 162.4 pence at the beginning of October, again after a drop in wholesale costs of 3 to 4 pence per litre.
The RAC has recently accused Britain’s biggest fuel retailers of charging an extra 5p for every liter of petrol sold to drivers..
He said not passing on these savings amounts to retailers pocketing Government funds. A 5p tax cut was introduced shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year to help struggling families cope with the cost of living crisis.
Instead, the RAC says the fuel tax cut only serves to “help retailers who have chosen to increase their margins”, which should infuriate drivers and the Treasury.