Rising petrol prices lead to increase in fuel thefts from station forecourts

Industry experts say rising petrol prices have resulted in an increase in fuel thefts from station forecourts. Petrol prices soared to record highs last week, with the cost of filling an average family car passing GBP100. Forecourt Eye, which works with 1,000 garages in the UK, reported a 39% rise in non-payments since January.

These included motorists driving off without paying or claiming to have forgotten their wallet, reports the BBC. Nick Fisher, chief executive of the digital debt recovery company that traces and track non-payers, said forecourt theft had been rising month-on-month since Christmas. There was a 19.5% spike in January and February, which he linked to the rising cost of fuel.

This was followed by another rise of 4.5% in March, 8% in April and a further 7% in May. Mr Fisher said: "At the moment, we're seeing a spike of people claiming to forget their wallets. Some people are trying to get away with it.

"Then there are people who fill up, they go buy a coffee and don't pay for the fuel. And then there's the others who put in GBP30 (of fuel) and just drive off." The AA's Luke Bosdet said some people are stealing fuel out of desperation.

Others are organised and doing it to profit, he said. "The thief is someone who relies on their car, motorbike or scooter to get to or go about their work but their finances have been broken by the cost of living crisis. Stealing fuel then becomes an act of desperation," Mr Bosdet explained.

"And then you have the organised thieves who see the high price of an essential item as highly lucrative and easily sold on.

They will have their preferred method of stealing the fuel, whether that's putting an extra tank on the back seat and then taking the fuel from forecourts, or taking jerry cans and cutting fuel lines on cars to drain tanks in the street.

"The latter will know which cars are easiest to steal from and target those." The soaring cost of fuel is down to supply issues caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a weak exchange rate between the US dollar and the UK's sterling.

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