FENLAND: Police step up campaign to target fuel thieves at local garages

POLICE and petrol stations have joined forces to target fuel thieves.A pilot Forecourt Watch scheme was launched at garages in Wisbech and West Norfolk.So-called bilking offences, where drivers make off without paying for fuel, cost retailers thousands

POLICE and petrol stations have joined forces to target fuel thieves.

A pilot Forecourt Watch scheme was launched at garages in Wisbech and West Norfolk.

So-called bilking offences, where drivers make off without paying for fuel, cost retailers thousands in lost revenue each year. The crime is on the increase as pump prices spiral.

Now staff are being trained in crime prevention and how to gather quality evidence to help police identify and deal with the offenders.


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Forecourt Watch, a partnership between police, retailers and the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), has proved highly successful in other parts of the country.

It has been introduced by Terrington Safer Neighbourhood Team Sgt Mark Cant and supported by BOSS, Total at Clenchwarton Road, West Lynn, Total at Briggs Road, Wisbech, and Hardwick Road Tesco's, Kings Lynn.

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Sgt Cant said: "These offences, often referred to as 'bilkings', are a common problem for many garages.

"At the start of the year in the Terrington neighbourhood, these three garages alone were being targeted two to three times per week on average with fuel worth up to £50 stolen each time.

"Over the last few months we have made real inroads against this type of offence by, among other things, providing some visible deterrents. We hope that by working in partnership with the garages we can be even more effective."

The scheme provides the garages with a local reporting line for incidents of bilking and a procedure to assist in the detection of the offences and the recovery of the payment for the fuel.

If the matter is reported within five minutes of it happening, staff are asked to contact police centrally so that patrolling officers in the neighbourhood can be alerted.

If more than five minutes has elapsed, the scheme asks them to gather as much evidence as they can and to complete a simple but comprehensive witness statement before handing the pack over to their named police contact, in this case a member of Terrington Safer Neighbourhood Team

Police will put out observations for the vehicles and carry out vehicle checks with the DVLA and other databases in an attempt to trace the owner.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) technology will also be used to target offending vehicles on false or unregistered number plates. Offenders will be arrested and offending vehicles will be seized.

When a person cannot pay for the fuel, their image is captured on CCTV and they are asked to sign an inability to pay form.

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