Forecourt crime down by a half but surge expected as ‘Covid-19 recession starts to bite’

Forecourt crime fell to its lowest level since 2015 in the second quarter of this year – but the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) warned it expects a surge in incidents during the second half of 2020

Oct 13, 2020
By Paul Jacques

BOSS executive director Kevin Eastwood said the Covid-19 crisis was “accelerating a trend towards NMoP” (no means of payment).

While the latest Forecourt Crime Index from BOSS shows incidents of forecourt crime fell by 50.1 per cent to 99 compared with 198 in the first three months of this year, the numbers were on the rise.

“We’ve found that the Covid-19 crisis has accelerated a trend towards NMoP and it now accounts for approximately two-thirds of all forecourt fuel crime incidents,” said Mr Eastwood.

“Anecdotal evidence collected since June indicates that the volume of drive-off incidents has already returned to pre-Covid levels. All the indicators now point to rising levels of forecourt crime and we anticipate a further surge in forecourt crime as the Covid-19 recession starts to bite.

“BOSS research has established that the real problem is more than a million incidents still take place every year. This means ‘drive-off’ and NMoP incidents cost the forecourt sector about £60 million per annum; that’s double the problem it was ten years ago.”

The Forecourt Crime Index is based on NMoP incident reports that are made to BOSS Payment Watch, the organisation’s loss recovery service. The total number of incidents reported in in the second quarter of fell by 50 per cent compared with a record high in the first quarter, and down 46 per cent on the same period last year.

The average number of incidents per site also fell by 50 per cent, but the average litres drawn per incident jumped by 20.2 per cent to 48 litres, compared with 39.9 litres in the first quarter. Even though average fuel prices were 12 per cent lower during this period, this saw the average value per incident increase by 5.7 per cent to £53.63.

Formed in 1991 by the oil industry, BOSS is a not-for-profit independent trade organisation campaigning to reduce forecourt crime. It is supported by the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), the Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK), the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC), the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) and the UK Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA).

The BOSS Forecourt Crime Index was established at 100 in the second quarter of 2015.

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