Bilking, or the act of filling up and driving off without paying for it, is a serious crime in the petrol industry but figures revealed recently show that it annually costs the industry millions. The Petrol Retail Association (PRA), which represents 70% of forecourts, estimated that on average every year £30 million worth of fuel is lost due to bilking.
In order to stop this, and help free up police resources, the police chief has called for forecourts to “design out” bilking, something he believes is a feasible and immediate action.
Lowered police resources
Due to lower police resources, Lincolnshire Police was the first to announce they would not be responding directly to reports of bilking, but instead, they would act from the desk, or not at all unless a staff member was in direct danger. They would also attend the scene for aggravating factors such as larger theft or threats towards staff.
The force will continue to record all instances, but it found itself becoming a ‘civil debt collector’ and has now asked all forecourt owners to use local civil courts to gain the funds back from the theft of fuel.
The lowered police resources nationwide have meant the nearly one in five cases of bilking are not investigated or pursued by police. One such instance occurred in Grantham, where a forecourt owner, Ian Cruickshank, had his CCTV catch a thief stealing fuel, but Lincolnshire Police “didn’t follow it up.” Speaking to the Daily Mail, Mr Cruickshank said “It was clearly a theft and a blatant crime. I had clear CCTV evidence that I was being targeted by criminals. It’s infuriating.”
Forecourts nationwide have experienced an increase of up to 40% in some areas of bilking, taking the total up to over 25,000 reported cases nationwide, and the actual number will be much higher, considering the estimated £30 million a year loss estimated by the PRA.
Police chief solution
One solution proposed was to “design out” bilking by introducing forced pay at the pump or pay before fuel, something he says happens in most other countries. In the USA, for example, the pump is locked until you either insert a credit/debit card or until you have pre-paid at the till for a certain cash amount of fuel. The pump is then locked when you hit the pre-specified amount.
Simon Cole of the National Police Chiefs’ Council said that “The petroleum industry could design out bilking in 30 seconds by making people pay up front which is what they do in other countries. They don’t because the walk up in their shops is part of their business offer.”
However, this was dismissed by the commercial manager of the PRA as “not quite as simple” as it sounds. Gordon Balmer went on to say that retrofitting pumps across the UK with pay at pumps card machines could cost at the very minimum £20,000 for an average petrol station, some others quoted much higher. For most petrol stations, where profit margins are slim, a extra £20,000 cost is something most cannot afford unless they can prove a return on investment, something that is not likely.
Mr Balmer also added that up to 50% of petrol stations profits come from the convenience store itself. Profit margins are so low on fuel that for a station to survive, it needs to have an alternative source of income to be able to pay staff decent wages and create profits. It may come as a surprise to some that up to 70% of the UK forecourts are actually owned by individuals who then choose to license stores to different fuels. For example, one store could be owned by an individual but choose to sell Shell for five years, and then go on to sell Applegreen later on. Those stations owned by larger companies may be able to foot the bill for retrofitting pumps with “Pay at pump” machines but it is unlikely that independents could.
PRA suggests an option
What do you think of the police chiefs suggestion? Would you be willing to pre-pay for fuel or would you rather pay at the pump? Let us know in the comments below
The PRA released a statement condemning Mr Coles statement and instead said that the police should help to pass on responsibility to business owners of forecourts by allowing them to help pursue crimes in the civil court and save police time.
“The UK has seen a 40% reduction in filling stations over the past 15 years,” stressed Brian Madderson, head of the PRA. “Those remaining have developed their retail offer to better serve their customers, with many lost amenities from banks and post offices migrating into the store of petrol stations, particularly in rural areas.
Rather than lecturing the victims of crime, the government should be empowering responsible businesses to enforce the law where the police are too overstretched to intervene. One solution would be to give petrol retailers electronic access to the DVLA’s Vehicle Keeper database, so they can pursue drive-offs through the civil courts and ease pressure on the police.”
The PRA are suggesting to work closely with the police rather than increase pressure on the police to perform, a more economical solution surely?
I would rather pay at the pump anyway, I don’t have to take my helmet off
Take your helmet off? Must be Lewis Hamilton in disguise! 🤣
the Stig maybe? lol
Motorbikes require full, You know they are not pedal powered!!
I also use pay at pump , especially when on my bike , because apparently as a 56 yr old on a bike I’m more liable to ride off without paying as opposed to when I drive there in my Merc to fill up. I must be schizophrenic when I ride my bike or was that someone else ????
Do you live near Wellingborough Steve ?
Sorry, I don’t get this. Motorbikes require FULL tanks? I don’t think so. They require FUEL? Duh, yes!
Would I be prepared to pay in advance at the pump? Of course, I already do when I use Tesco and Asda! If I am getting something stolen from me, it is MY responsibility to ensure I do everything to stop it! So yes filling stations need to have previously pay, or a means to stop the vehicle leaving without paying. Simples!
In the long term it will encourage Vigilante groups to sort it out, there will be no other choice with our so called s**t for brains goverment
How could I estimate the amount I`d need to completely fill my tank before a long journey?
This is how the stations make their profits, as people either overbuy the amount of fuel or underbuy and then try guessing how much to fill up.
The savvy driver knows how many litres their car takes and fills it to the correct amount.
How would I determine how much fuel I have left to millilitre precision, so that I can specify the exact amount I need to fill my tank up?
It sounds like they want people to pay by card. Some pumps already do. You insert the card, it takes £1 to confirm it’s valid, then you fill and it charges for what you filled. Not that much hassle, even I can manage it. But it means customers have no reason to go to the shop and buy food, drink etc so the shops would lose out.
Paying with a card at “Pay at Pump” can also give you problems as I found out a few months ago when filling up. My card was fraudulently used after a visit to Tesco when the pump didn’t process the payment correctly and I had to start again. Whether that was the pump’s fault or somebody trying to access my card details I don’t know, but it’s led to me paying by cash or contactless card in the shop to avoid problems in the future. Be careful is my advice.
Mark, unless a criminal had fitted a device to the petrol pump, it’s highly unlikely the fraud attempt was linked to the petrol pump. These outside payment systems are notorious for intermittently losing connection to your bank. I actually work at a Petrol station and we have this problem many times a day. It’s a normal occurrence where I work. You can try a second time straight away and it will work.
I like many people prefer to pay with cash, also how am I supposed to know how many litres I need to fill my tank I am one who fills up to the top every time I fill up & I would resent being forced to pay by card.
Just hand over enough cash to cover it. Whatever you don’t use will be given back as change.
That means you have to go back into the shop in queue again which means the forecourts will be stacked with cars and a shop full of customers great way of doing things not .
Used to be true, but has recently changed. You now need to have £99 available on your card before it will be accepted, whether you purchase £99 of fuel or not.
I don’t think that’s correct. It’s certainly not the case where I live. Not everyone is going to have £99 in their bank when they just need to put a tenner in.
I work at a petrol station and it is true that the most common reason your card gets declined when you try to pay at the pump is because you don’t have enough money to cover the maximum amount that can be dispensed. Think about it – how is the pump supposed to know how much fuel you intend to put in? It can’t (unless you use the preset button) so it has to assume the maximum. Otherwise what would happen if you put £120 worth in and then only have £20 in your account? We can’t take the fuel out of your car. No, the system can’t allow that to happen so it has to check you have enough in your account – that’s why it declines if you don’t have the funds.
I have had to do it in the USA. It’s a nightmare
So have I, and it was simple.
You don’t need to know that. If you know how much fuel your tank holds (not difficult to find out if you don’t), and you can see the price of the fuel, you know roughly what it will cost. Or, as in the USA, just go in and pay over what is actually needed. Once fuelled, they give you the change. Works there without a problem…..
Same as when I’m in Malaysia. If you pay too much you go and get back the difference. Simple.
Don’t be picky. A millilitre (one thousandth of a litre) costs well under a penny, and 100ml is little more than £!.
No they bloody don’t. Where have you got this from ? You preauthorise up to a limit and they bill you for exactly what you’ve taken. Simple.
We’re just back from New England and due to issues with my UK credit card and pay-at-pump (eventually resolved) we had to ‘pre-pay by card in kiosk’ a couple of times. They ask you to guess how much it will cost, bill you for that amount then when you’ve filled and come short they issue another receipt and void the first one. Seems a lot of faffing (and you keep checking to make sure they don’t double-debit you) but it would stop any drive offs without further technical upgrades, just longer queues at the kiosk?
No such thing as a free lunch. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction
No they don’t because there are none currently that make you pay first. Pay at the pump is a system I use wherever I can.
Most ASDA forecourts in the south have a couple of prepay pumps to the lefthand side.
I just fill until the nozzle knocks off lol
Simple, you pay for a full tank then, if the amount is not fully used, you go back to the kiosk for a refund of the excess paid.
Pay for £10 of fuel, pay for another £10 and so on until your tank is full then go to the kiosk to get your money back! Imagine the queues at fuel stations as people go to the kiosk several times to top up their pre-payment. If I am going on a long journey I may need to fill up 50 or 60 litres of fuel.
If your tank was nearly empty, showing this on your fuel gauge your estimate would be closer to £50 to £60 so therefore why would you keep paying for £10 at a time until full, Common sense prevails to a certain degree.
So just give the cashier an overestimated amount and once you filled up,go back in and get your change.Whats difficult with that?
Why make it this difficult for yourself? Hand over 50 quid (or whatever) then go get your change for what you haven’t used. Do you always pay an exact amount in cash when you buy other things? More likely you hand over a few notes and get some change.
BOAC@LHR That would then require two trips into the kiosk to fill up, which is a bit of a faff. A better way would be to go into the kiosk and use your card and have the till store your card details until you’ve filled up, then bill you automatically after you finish and put and put the nozzle back. This is how Pay At Pump works already.
Great for those who use cards. I use cash. So still do thousands of others. Let’s simply not support the police on this but insist they do their damn job just like the rest of us have to five days a week.
Cash is the sticking point yes. You’d probably have to make two trips into the kiosk eg. if you tank is going to take 50-ish pound, you leave £60 at the till, take your fuel, then return to get your change. Takes a little bit longer, maybe a lot longer if there are queues. Other than putting some sort of self service machine outside (like the self scans at supermarket checkouts which accept cash and give change), cash payers would be worse off, unfortunately.
So you use cash for what is potentially a £50-£70 purchase depending on the size of your vehicle? So do you print the cash yourself, or do you use a CARD to get the cash from an ATM on a regular basis? In which case, why not use your card to buy your fuel?
That said, the American system of pre-paying at the cashier is an ar**ache requiring 2 trips to the cashier. Decent pay at pump systems are fine). I’ve never had a problem with on in the UK. Not so much those in the US though – my family insist that someone else negotiates with the PAP system while I fill up to avoid melt downs!!
A lot of people use cash only at fuel stations because so many rip cards off – Shell seems exceptionally prevalent on this
Police could do a better job if they were better supported, and not have their numbers reduced by the penny-pinching government.
Fair comment, for those of us who always use a card for payment (me included) but what about people who still use cash?
Bring on the cashless society!
You must love the banks if you are so happy for them to have so much control over your cash, with a card which the banks would like everyone to use because it is easy to loose track of how much you spend so the banks can then make more profit by charging you more fees for your overspend etc.
Easy to lose track of what you spend? Keep your receipt and when your statement arrives, check it. If you can’t be bothered, only yourself to blame.
Cash is king and speaks all languages, when your card gets cloned y’all wake up
And then ding your card has been cloned! This happened to me a few years ago in Peterborough. Since then I don’t let my cards out of my sight. If a restaurant won’t run a tab without holding my card I pay for the meal item by item!
Count add up it’s not rocket science
If you use a card no problem. The card is debited with fuel put in the tank. If you use cash you pay fill the car and receive a cash refund of the fuel is less than the amount paid.
you mean you dont know the capacity of your fuel tank? Mine is 60 litres to fill, or 40 litres when I fill it when it when is down to the last quarter. are you saying that is hard to work out?
Loan car? Hire Cars, works vehicles, some buses that don’t have fuel gauges, vehicles with faulty gauges etc etc.
Ross, spot on. People just looking for a chance to have a gripe….
Then you’ve got to multiply the number of litres by the price per litre to get a rough idea of how much you’ve got to pay. More delay working it out.
My local supermarket has a fast pump. You put the card in and it takes the details. You can then take up to £60 I think in fuel. It only bills you for what you take. Theres no need for refunds or whatever. It’s incredibly easy.
You do not need to estimate how much fuel you need as you would as is done by some filling stations put your card in before you are allowed to put fuel in your tank therefore you have paid for your fuel when you take to nozzle out. The only problem I can see is that some people do not have a credit or debit card so cannot use card only payment system
Look up how many litres your car holds if orange lights on, most cars, deduct 4.5 litres, I know wife’s 2017 fiesta holds 40 liters if lights on an my bmw 87 litres.
Already implemented at Tesco pay at the pump.
You put your credit or debit card in before fuelling, and they ‘reserve’ around £99 on your credit limit or bank balance. That’s ok if you have enough credit, but those on a tight budget would be stuffed, as you need a minimum of £99 available to use the current system.
I guess a new system could let you choose your maximum fill, so someone could choose £15, and only end up paying £15 or less.
My problem is that, once again, we’re all paying the bill for security systems to deal with the minority of criminals. We must deal with the criminals with Zero Tolerance and punitive punishments!
In the US you just go back to the till and get your change. No reason why it should not be the same here.
I’ve used a station near here that uses the pre-pay system, was not really a problem.
Pay at pump is my preferred system. No waiting behind someone buying fuel on account then going on to buy individual lottery tickets for everyone in the office.
My guess is that the pumps would pre authorise an amount (Asda used to do £99 until the fiasco earlier this year, where it was shown it took days for any underspend to be reimbursed). If the banks could sort out the system so that under spends were reimbursed more quickly,. this could be an option. I, for one, wouldn’t want to pre-authorise £99 at the pump and then have to wait 4 or 5 working days to be able to use the £89 I didn’t need. Another option might be a system, where you can pre-authorise a variable amount. So you pre-authorise only what you know you want to use.
Pay at pump with credit card, charges for what is used, and is the forecourt additional costs. Pay with cash at the ‘kiosk’ and attendant releases the pump for filling, could be attendee holding a deposit, or card before charging after fill, additional cost ‘time to fill’ no financial or mechanical changes needed
if you pay by card on the continent at a self service pump you are allowed to put in up to £99 at the pump before it switches off, that should be ok for most vehicles to fill up. You get charged for the amount you put in the tank. So you should be able to fill up and when the nozzle clicks off as your tank is full and its inder the £99 limit your card is charged for exact amount delivered, no need to guess.
But the pre authorisation in France stays on your account up to 2 weeks if you fill up every day by the end of the week you are owed hundreds of pounds
WITH PAY AT THE PUMP the cost is taken from your card for the amount of fuel you have put in the tank Card authorised first then fuel can be taken Have you ever used a pay at the pump pump it seems not
If you want to fill up as I did in USA before returning my hire car you pay up front an amount you know will be too much in the shop then get change after if using a credit card they put the excess charge back onto your card. If you pay at the pump this already happens now at supermarkets in the UK but is done automatically by the machine.
You put your card in the machine, it is scanned, you are asked to input your pin, the card is authorised for up to £99 (higher than this if you have a commercial Truckpay card or similar). You fill your tank and your bank a/c is debited the amount you spent. We have several in this area. It is a quick in-and-out of the fuel station and I prefer it.
Whatever you buy you will use, no one else, so maybe fill up, if you don’t use it today you’ll use it tomorrow – it maybe an investment but will stop you needing roadside assistance or calling a friend
In America you must pay for fuel first which I think is a brilliant idea, countries like Uk need to learn since we are failing in a lot of things generally. Common sense comes into the equation when filling up unless people are really that dumb!
It is not difficult to work how much fuel you need as you should know the basics of your own car.
Find out from your dealer what your tank litre capacity is and then have that in mind when you come to fill up.
I think in the US it has worked well and reduces petrol crime considerably. It will stop idiots on the roads and prevent less car crime and twats in this world.
Quite easy Jean.
Hundreds of millions of Americans have already worked it out:
Give money to cashier.
Pump until tank is full.
Retrieve receipt and surplus money from cashier.
Put tank cap back on and depart petrol station.
If you still can’t work this out show it to your carer.
I’m disabled, so I like Pay at Pump. You’d have me drag myself to the kiosk not once but TWICE? I don’t think so, mate!
You prepay a set amount and what you don’t put in is refunded to your card.
No problems paying at pump. Paying cash up front will prevent that 1p over issue. Access to DVLA database won’t be issue for thief they’re just use false plates.
I would like the procedure to be ‘pay at pump’. The USA system requires you to decide how much fuel you can get into your vehicle, or play safe and only part fill ……. this is a poor solution compared to paying at the pump, and time consuming due to queues.
I always fully fill-up at the cheapest price on my travels. I don’t want to be going to partly fill every couple of days, and quite often not at the best price.
I am happy to prepay if it stops people leaving without paying. One forecourt near me is automatic and you have to do this anyway. Also when travelling abroard this is commonplace.
Not only would I be willing to pay in advance but I would be willing to pay a lump sum in advance to secure fuel at a good price. The profit (interest) the petrol station would earn on holding my money could be used to offset the fuel price fluctuations. In today’s world it would be possible for companies to track the price and where they felt the customer was loosing out because prices changed a lot they could work with the customer to either negotiate a new price if fuel costs went up or down or give the customer his money back if an agreement couldn’t be reached. If I could secure a 5-6ppl ‘discount’ by doing this I would be happy to pre-purchase fuel.
I use the same petrol station every eeek to fill-up and spend £50-60 in diesel.
I spend a similar amount, because of my daily commute. What a brilliant idea. It’s similar to what airlines etc. do, hedging.
Pay at pump seems to have reduced over the past few years I think because people misunderstood how they worked. You could always fill the tank or part fill and pay whatever that cost but there was a maximum amount. I never needed more so I’m puzzled by half the comments here about estimating or not getting enough. 🤔
I think we are talking of two different things here. Pay at the pump is fine and I support that as it saves time and also prevent ques. What the Police Chief is suggesting is to pay in advance meaning putting a lump sum with the garage in advance whereby the cost of fuel you take will be deducted from your account which is completely different from Pay at Pump
And with pre-pay if you don’t take all the fuel covered by the pre-payment then the difference is refunded to you, either to your card account or in cash, according to how you made the pre-payment. That’s how the USA system works. And surely everyone can make a good stab at what the most is that your tank will take to fill up. Not that it’s compulsory to fill up, of course.
Pay before you obtain fuel is long overdue, my grandsons wife recently had 2 large BMW cars fill up and just drive away, not leaving her forecourt with over £200 worth stolen, come on UK catch up with other countries and try to stop at least one crime in its tracks
Pay at pump works well. I use it every time if the option is there. For independents, if retrofitting is too expensive, what about more simple solutions. A barrier? Barrier rises once you’ve paid. Simples.
A good idea, but what about in practice? Simple up/down barriers have a tendency to frequently breakdown. Rising bollards or ramp would be better but, no doubt, prohibitively expensive to retro-fit.
looks like 8500 petrol stations left in the UK now so £3500 each , each year. Sad that anything is necessary but that would go a long way to one way ramps like a carpark on the way in and a barrier exit, what is even more sad is the Police refusal to work with the DVLA to make sure cars are registered at the DVLA who no doubt are the theifs as they cant be traced I had a repeat tresspaser causing problems and even when I traced the owner the Police and DVLA would not do anything with the information unless they were caught on the road by the police!!! Your carpark is private land = your problem!
ANOTHER POLICE CHIEF THAT IS NOT IN TOUCH WITH THE REAL WORLD AND WHO JUST SITS THERE PUSHING PAPERS AROUND HIS DESK AND TAKING ALL THE CREDIT GET A GRIP.
WE ARE NOT AMERICA NOR DO WE WANT TO BE LIKE THEM GET OF YOUR BACKSIDE AND LISTEN TO ALL THE POEPLE THAT LIVE IN THIS GREAT COUNTRY AND PAY YOUR WAGES AND PUT MORE BOBBYS ON THE BEAT
It might be easier for forces to pay the wages if the government didn’t keep reducing the money they give them. Put more officers on the beat? Give the authorities enough money to pay for staff and we might even catch more criminals!
Biking is a crime on the same lines as shoplifting. This is a police matter and they should do their duty to catch the thief and prosecute the thief and not refer it as the police acting as debt collector for the garages. They did not and have not charged any one biking for recovery of the debt as it is the court that direct the offender to pay up plus cost as part of the judgement. So using the lame excuse not to attend cases of biking is irresponsible and should be and must be taken as a failure to carry out their duty to apprehend offenders as the excuse given by the Police Chief is irresponsible and outright illegal. Who is he and what right has he or any Police Chief to decide what crime to attend or not to attend? If they are so squeezed of resources, why are they wasting public funds in deploying police with speed cameras hoping to catch some unexpected drivers? Use the police to protect the community and apprehend the offenders.of crime like biking theft, residential crimes and violence and stop wasting time and money on deploying mobile speed traps and unmarked cars to hopefully catch some speeding drivers so that they can fill their coffers from the fines and caused grief and stress to the drivers. This is a a clear example of a force that lack prioritisation and organisation.
Could not agree more. We pay for policing, but like council tax, it goes up and services are reduced. A trader giving short measure would be prosecuted.
The police budgets have been cut as have Officer numbers what do you expect..
They would be first to moan that police didn’t attend a serious assault or catch the offender because they were busy looking for a fuel thief. And it wouldn’t be the first time speed-trap cops caught up with the fuel thief because they were in the right place at the right time.
Everything that is none profit making is having cuts Even though we pay for it in our taxes. . Theres going to come a time when the police force will exist only for riot control . Theyll probably get ex sqaddies to do the job.
Spot on Mate!!
Happy to accept the Police chiefs suggestion if he is prepared to take a proportional cut in police funds for not performing that duty that is in his terms of the contract.
No free rides for the police on this one. If the Cheif is not happy with that then NO we are not happy with his suggestion.
Please note, I am a law-abiding citizen of the UK, and would expect the police provide the services that are stated in the law. Change the law and then I will abide by the new terms. It will have to be an act of parliament to redefine bilking as a non-police matter.
With a reduction of 21,000 police officers it makes sense to prepay it is already standard practice in many countries.
Would you be happy to stand the pump price to increase, to offset the retrofitting the petrol stations. I’m not. Theft is a theft & is the police responsibility. The government has not long said we are at the end of austerity. So let’s see some more police officers !!!
What the government meant . Was, they the government were out of the austerity period. Not us.
Speed, mobile phones, driving without due care and attention and drink and drug driving, quite frankly kill people. I would argue pursuing poor driving is more responsible than chasing debts when they could be designed out. Petrol stations need to evolve.
Burglars & criminals kill people as well.
From my knowledge and experience, the number of burglars attacking people at all is pretty small. reckless driving is much more dangerous.
Well lets hope you dont have the experience of being burgled and robbed . They dont have to attack. Just knowing some stranger has been in your home and stolen precious items is enough to make somebody unwell , or even die. Especially if they happen to be frail and in poor health .
Yes Your dead right . My sister and her husband have just recently been burgled . Both are in their eighties . And both could die as a result of this burglary. And if they did . It wouldn’t even be considered as manslaughter.
This is not the Police refusing to attend. This is merely a reaction to government cuts of over 20,000 officers over the last four years.
Bluntly put, there are no longer sufficient officers to attend. In my area there are insufficient to attend burglary or car theft that are far more serious than running off without paying for fuel.
So what is the excuse. Were not paying enough taxes. They took all our money in taxes and blew it , In wars that werent nothing to do with us.
I think you mean bilking not biking mate. As a biker, I would object to biking as a crime on the same lines as shoplifting. If the police were to attend every incident of biking, they would be very busy indeed!!
You know what he meant. Blame predictive typing
Unfortunately the police are under-resourced as a result of decades of under-resourced, especially in the last few years of austerity imposed by three terms of Tory government. The police can only now concentrate on the most serious crimes as they have to deploy resources in the most effective way, which unfortunately means ignoring minor crime, and concentrating on major crime. This comes at a cost in itself as society becomes feral due to the non involvement of police in low level crime and the criminals become emboldened to commit more serious crime and they are unknown to the police due to their previous non involvement in solving the low level crime.
We need to better fund public services, and pay for it by making sure these big businesses that transfer their profits overseas pay a fair amount of tax here in the UK.
Amazon must be at the top of the list , and corporate Companies
I concur but if people pay for the fuel prior like say Tesco can do and Morrisons instead of an option to pay in the kiosk then there would be no need to attend for non payment of fuel it’s what they do on the continent….At Morrisons I put my card details in first before they dispense with the fuel for my car and bike.
But what if youve only got hard cash. And what if the banks crash
So who are you to say which crimes should be investigated either. Speeding is not only a crime but also irresponsible and causes loss of lives and injuries to innocent people, which stealing fuel doesn’t.
Stealing causes suffering to everyone. We all end up paying for the selfish crooks who couldnt careless what distress their actions cause. They are scum and the lowest form of life.
Some forecourts have the option to pay at kiosk or pump. However, the article refers to low income from fuel sales and operators are reliant on kiosk sales to make a living. Many drivers (like me) fill up at stations, but not always awre of how much fuel is needed.
All very well for Police to decline attendance etc, but theft is theft. Would they decline attendance to large stores in the case of shoplifters ? I am not anti Police, but they need to view crime, petty or otherwise, being a threat to peoples livelihood.
Supermarket petrol stations frequently have pay at pump facilities, but they seem to be much less common at branded stations. Hence the point that it would cost a lot to implement pay at pump everywhere, not to mention how much work/money it would be to disable pay at kiosk or change the sequence for doing so.
I agree prepay for petrol might get prices down so we don’t have to cover the cost of stolen fuel. Why should some not pay when law abiding people go pay. It’s about time fuel companies did prepay instead of using the police to get there money back police are stretched as it is. It would stop fuel being stolen so fuel companies win, it’s not rocket science.
With number plate recognition systems, couldn’t retailers send number to all retailers on a central database and when that number appears at a forecourt prevent the pump operating?
The retailer I work for has such a system within its own company. However, not all sites have the cameras! Even the CCTV at our site is badly maintained most of the time… I don’t think these big companies care to be honest, they must just pass on the costs of any loses to the paying customers as its easier.
Been done by many stations for years. I used to do the support on many of the systems.
Headline should read “violent crime rises as police chiefs worry about minor issues”.
If you think bilking is minor you should take a look at the 900+ metropolitan officers sitting at desks policing your thoughts on Twitter. No, I’m not making this up.
I dont call millions of pounds worth of fuel being stolen a minor crime.
Compared to things like murder and rape it is minor.
I agree, if I was to go and steal a couple of million pounds worth of fuel from the foundary or even one tanker full I bet. I would not get a slap on the wrists lol.
same old lark people don’t care about the total if its lots of bits to lots of people, Police are only interested if its a fat wedge to one person
I think most people are missing the point here!
Why dont the police officer just do his job, what he is paid by us to do, as the law stands bilking is theft and he is employed to investigate theft he is not paid to decide what he does or not investigate.
We cant have the police choosing which laws they will or will not investigate, the next thing he will want is for everybody to pay for their monthly shopping at the supermarket in advance because he does not want to respond to shoplifting!
If he has a shortage of funds it is the govenments fault at the end of the day not the petrol stations and private citizens.
The Police force have to choose which crimes to investigate all the time. Its becuse they are woefully underfunded due to the current governements fixation on austerity. You voted for the current government? You voted for this, along with cuts the NHS and schools. If you want the police to be funded so they actually have enough staff to do this, vote for a different government. Simple.
At last. The most sensible comment on here.
It seems a lot of people haven’t been listening to the news for the past year or so – Local Authorities effectively going bankrupt, or nearly so, and police chiefs throughout the country saying they are so low on numbers, having lost tens of thousands of officers (mostly while Theresa May was Home Secretary) that they are having to prioritise which reported crimes to follow up as they don’t have the resources to cover evrything.
like at Sunderland? Brand new civic centres, thousands spent on trees, thousands spent on bloated wages for council bosses, and labour councillors who join every committee known to man, for the extra money. Our councils divert the money to themselves, then chuck crumbs at all our services. Theres plenty of money.
Austerity? What austerity? You should have been growing up like I did just after WW2, that was difficult. If you’ve been watching the TV programme “The Last Tommies” that’s being shown on TV & saw what the general public back here had to go through in WW1, THAT really was austerity. People nowadays have never had it so good.
Quite right Clive Keevil. I too grew up post WW2 with a single parent. Those days we had to make do and mend, and sometimes go without in order to make ends meet. Yes you could go up to your eyeballs in debt, but at some time (sooner than later) you had to pay it back. Many of the every day items of today were classed as luxuries post WW2.
Correct, a shortage of funds IS the government’s fault, but that’s where we’re at. Would you rather police send an officer to deal with fuel theft from a garage, or one to your house if a family member has been assaulted?
As you say, it is the Governments fault for underfunding the Police.
I hate pre-pay pumps (as already installed at the majority of ASDA stores in Cumbria). In particular the suggestion that drivers should pay for a certain amount BEFORE filling will ruin my life time obsession of brim full to brim full fuel useage MPG calculations. I do not know to the penny how much fuel my tank will take to exactly fill. Police and courts should prosecute those responsible for bilking much more strongly. That will be the deterrent needed, especially as the evidence (CCTV) is often there already with offenders’ image and registration details.
Anyone on foreign or non-standard plates, eg Irish, are more or less untraceable by the police.
You’re reducing your mpg by carting around a full tank half the time. Like you I used to fill up all the time so I could calculate my mpg. Two or three years ago I started putting in half a tank at a time instead (that’s 30 litres for me) and I soon forgot about my mpg fetish. I only fill up now on rare occasions (long trip, specific price offer, ext.).
Absolute agree. I never fill my tank. Saves money and time.
That’s ok for low
Mileage drivers, I for one don’t want to be filling up several days a week.
Hardly makes any difference at all, plus you wally, you need to waste fuel going to the garage more times a month than you need, wasting time too. I fill once a month an drive till it’s empty even if that’s more than a month away.
I fill up when I am passing a station and my diesel car works better on not having supermarket fuel sadly. I guess it is just not good enough quality, but was nice and cheap in comparison. I fill up when I need to and always fill to the top as it is an pain filling up every week. I work for NHS on community but I think I am at the stage when I am paying them to use my car, I am sure 45p does not cover the bumps and new tyres -wear and tear, extra cost of insurance for business use and the petrol. Never worked it out as I would get very depressed about it. I am not on a high income either being a band four. Barely a tenner an hour.
Do these police chiefs live in the real world. I always fill my tank, but have no idea how much petrol I will need beforehand.
Paying in advance is like airlines buying aviation gas in advance called hedging. This is fine and dandy if there is a guideline to prices for various amount paid in advance which should be lower than the pump prices as you are bulk buying. If this is not done then it will be another way of reaping off customers as the price is already inflated and giving the garages payment in advance and making them more money from interest and customer filling up their cars at the pumps at a later stage and find that the price per litre has gone up. So in theory it is not paying in advance for petrol but depositing a sum in advance which is nothing but a back door and opportunity for garages to charge what they like as you are bound to buy from that garage as you have a deposit lodged with them and going to another garage who is cheaper is not an option unless you have deposited with them as well which is ridiculous and unworkable. What happen to fair competition?
Having driven a lot in the USA paying up front for fuel is a common practice. It takes a day or two to get used to and means you are in the petrol station a little longer as you make a second trip to the cashier for change if paying cash but it really doesn’t make a huge difference. Overall I would be quite happy for this to be the norm in the UK.
Totally agree with the idea of pay before fuelling, I worked for the Police as a Communications Operator for nearly 20 years and in my initial years Bilking was a problem, it is even more so now with the cost if fuel. Businesses should make their premises more secure in the same way that you try to secure your home to stop burglaries. Police resources are far more limited now than they were years ago, I would rather an Officer investigate crimes that are hard to prevent rather than ones that CAN be prevented.
Under NO circumstances should we go down the route of giving access to DVLA records etc, it would mean that unscrupulous employees would use it for other reasons. If you open up the access to vehicle records for fuel bilking then what if a shoplifter was seen going away in a vehicle, do we then open it up for shops?.
As a police officer who has investigated bilking, I agree that prevention is better than cure and pay at the pump would be a way of doing that.
To those suggesting that we give the garages access to DVLA records, that would not solve anything as in the vast majority of bilkings are carried out by cars on false/stolen/cloned plates so they would end up pursuing innocent motorists for payment
There are a few bilkings where this is not the case and in those cases I can’t see why the garages cannot use civil recovery the same as supermarkets do for shop lifters.
For all those complaining that we should investigate every crime as it’s our duty while I agree with you, we are stretched to the limit.
Most low level crime is investigated by uniformed police officers who are also responding to emergency calls from the public, It is simply not practical to investigate every crime so decisions have to be made about which ones have a chance of being solved, and those are focused on
Most bilkings are by suspects using false/cloned/stolen plates so that leaves CCTV as the only evidence but unless there is a clear view of the suspects face then realistically there is no chance of tracing them
DVLA records are accessed by some very doubtful companies operating private car parks. I’m for the pre-pay route anyway, a little inconvenience to cut a lot of crime.
I stopped using my credit card at a “pay at pump” after my details were stolen, which involved a lot of hassle in getting fraudulent payments cancelled and waiting for a replacement card to be sent to me.
I don’t mind either way, honest people will pay one way or the other.
This is so simple to solve. At our local ASDA they have unattended pumps, you put you card in , it takes your details, pull card, fill with the fuel you need and the pump charges for what you take. Not a penny more or less. Simples. The technology is there already.
You are quite right. I cant see what other people find so hard to understand.that If you have a problem that is costing all of us £1000’s. You do something about it, even it may inconvenience the minority cash payers. Unfortunately we now have a police service that is no longer able or willing to do its job.
Another case of the old bill neglecting their role.i.e. persuing and catching the scum. Pay up front is a pain, it’s guesswork as vehicle fuel gauges in many cases are not exactly accurate, and if you want to fill up for a long journey……….?
I recently got some fuel at a pay before fuelling garage in the Midlands, I was initially confused but it was pretty straightforward. I don’t see how it would stop me visiting the shop, in fact I normally use Pay at the Pump and never go near the shop. If margins are so low then you would think this easy solution to stopping theft would be implemented.
Why can’t the facility to read the customers Credit/Debit Card prior to filling the vehicle with fuel, and when completed finalise the sale either in the kiosk or at the pump, as happens on the 24 hour forecourts, I’m sure the ‘bilkers’ will give these petrol stations a wide berth.
I refuse to believe that anyone could estimate the exact mileage they can expect from a given amount of fuel as they cannot allow for unforeseen circumstances ie. traffic hold ups. Therefore if they put a certain quantity of fuel in they must have some idea by,keeping an eye on the fuel gauge and look out for a filling station when levels get low. I usually measure my fill ups by £s and not litres.
Really cannot see what the problem is if you are an honest person. This idea, if it came into force, would not make absolutely no difference to me when filling up my tank, whether its before or after. Only people this would concern would be those who think they are entitled to fill their vehicle up and drive off. In other words its the thieves who would not like it.
False information. In the USA you can choose to pay indoors as here. In risky areas, you may need to enter and hive credit card but it is nor automatic as stated in the article. Parochial joyrnalists forget that readers often travel frequently and know more about the subject than Journalists in the UK or a UK Police Chief.
Good idea but the banjs must co operate too. Everyone needs to curb the greed. I have stopped paying at the pump since the article on this site about how pre paying can cost more than the fuel purchased.
If I MUST either pre-pay at pump or pre-pay at kiosk then it would be the latter. But with the majority of pumps I can pre-pay for £10’s worth and fill up with £40’s worth, so no solution. How about, instead, the filling stations be obliged to record by camera all visitors and then the police do their job by taking offenders to Court. As for driver identification, it will be on camera. Very few offending vehicles are stolen so the job for the police is easy. One home visit to issue a caution, then straight to Court. Simples, as the meerkat said. Except, most police time these days seems to be taken up issuing excuses why they have no time to combat crime. Wonder why that is?????????
I totally agree with this. If you pay at the pump it is automatically charged to your card so why not go the whole hog. If all petrol stations do it on the same day customers can’t object
Civil courts option would be okay except justice in the UK is so (over-)priced nowadays (as opposed to when I practised law, and small claims could be started for a sensible fee) that it would be unfair to many a business owner – especially, of course, independent and/or small ones. What needs to happen is for the police to be properly funded and manned again – and for this ‘austerity’ c**p to stop. While the rich-poor gap increases, crimes like this will increase and the civil courts aren’t the answer to rising inequality and a selfish govt full of cronyism and corruption. Especially when the court system as much as the police are being radically under-funded and undermined.
Also, more parochially, yes WTF: how can we all accurately assess our petrol ahead of filling up, all the time? Pfft. As if people don’t get stressed enough when they’re on the roads!
As someone who works in fuel station, this can only be a good thing IF DONE RIGHT. Driving off without paying is one thing and the police have a duty to investigate all drive offs regardless of the value. A bigger problem IME is retail fraud, where people fill up, then come into the kiosk and claim they have no way of paying. For whatever reason this isn’t classed as theft but becomes a ‘civil mater’.
This usually results in the forecourt taking details of the driver and vehicle and an agreement is signed to say they will come back and pay within a set time limit, usually 7 days, otherwise legal recovery action is taken. In reality this system doesn’t work, however, I can’t say specifics of why for obvious reasons. The retailer I work for is owed tens of thousands of pounds just from one very large Irish family who nearly always have Irish plates on their vehicles (which apparently the police ANPR cameras do not recognise), often have no ID and give false details. This is just one family and they operate across the whole country. Even though staff are now familiar with these techniques, often managers or police will override us if we try to demand payment and are then faced with aggression, rudeness, etc, all in front of other paying customers. The whole thing is a joke, we need pre-pay for fuel.
My retailer already has Pay At Pump facilities and also has pre-set buttons on the pumps to use regardless of how you would like to pay. So if you want to put in £20, set the pump to £20 and it will stop there dead on. All it would take in our case is software changes at the til and at the pumps to enforce pre-pay. As mentioned by others, when filling the tank fully, how do you know how much you want? You probably don’t, I certainly wouldn’t know although I could guess pretty close, close isn’t good enough. You need a system in kiosk that is similar to the way Pay At Pump already works. You verify your card at the til, take your fuel, then the til bills you the correct amount. One trip into the kiosk, takes the same amount of time as before. Cash would probably require two trips unfortunately unless you do guess correctly or just fill up close to full.
But hey what do I know, I’m just a cashier at ground level who faces these issues everyday, I’m not a politician so nobody will care what I think.
To claim police ANPR cameras do not recognise Irish plates is an absolute lie. Having developed and installed the technology I can say nothing could be further from the truth. Tracing the owner is a separate matters.
I guess the plates will be cloned anyway, devious b****ds, and it is people like them that cost the rest of us money. I think their cars should be prevented from leaving the station until the police tow truck gets there and all cars belonging to known offenders should be towed off and squashed until they are a small box of metal for recycling – I would think this would stop repeat offenders, if they kept losing their cars to the scrap heap!! Why cant this be implemented. Surely photos of the cars is taken as they are filling. It is not rocket science. The trouble is we are a country that is soft on criminals. Hence the crime rate.
Pay in advance with a card on the pump. Little reciept comes out that gives you a discount on something in the shop to encourage you inside. Free porn mag with every £20 spent in shop or whatever.
If you want to pay cash you get some sort of top up card in the shop.
What a great idea, I always know how much fuel I want to buy so paying for it up front wouldn’t be an issue at all.
what happens if you pay by a fuel card not thought of that by the looks of it
How naive are some these comments, if you are going to steal fuel you are going to do it in a stolen car or fit false plates, not go on in your own car.
Pay at pump is already in use and avoids any trips to the kiosk.
Firstly, for a Police Chief to say their force is becoming a ‘civil debt collector’ is highly unprofessional and an insult to the nations intelligence.
Theft is a criminal offence and therefore should be dealt with by law enforcement. Forecourt owners do not have the resources to be able to successfully investigate and take a suspect to court to be re-reimbursed a loss from theft.
Sadly our nations Police Forces are extremely under resourced and the suggestion to implement measures to deter people committing criminal offences is a valid one. However some people may not be able to afford to install deterrents and the recuperation of the cost may never be realised.
I would imagine if the cost of this measure were to be subsidised by the Police Forces budget the Chief may be less hasty in his comments.
From a consumers point of view I would be more than happy to use a pre-pay system. Yes, it maybe hard to adjust at first (nobody likes a change in their routine) but will soon become normal after a while. It would take a little while and research to find out the capacity of your petrol tank and estimate how many litres you would require.
Another option would be to pay a proportionate amount of extra Council Tax in order for the Police Force to employ more officers.
In Surrey, for the next year, the police “cut” of the council-tax has been raised by 5.3% anyway. We used to have police-stations in all the major towns, not now. It is now “spot-the-police-person”, unless of-course you happen to make a minor driving faux-pas.. then they will be there to catch you.
Good idea, they’ve been doing that in some states of the US for years
I am 76yo and severely disabled. Anything that will save me from walking to a kiosk and queing in a line of people is good for me, I prefer to pay at the pump when possible. Quicker and less painful.
Why not do the same as us HGV drivers and hand over your debit/credit/fuel card at the cashier desk prior to filling up, that way people will still be going into the shop.
We don’t at our company/filling station
if you go to the US There are many out of town garages you have to pay for gas before filling up
Obviously paying at the pump would be an ideal solution (with your Pay Card locked into machine until the transaction is ended) But as it has been pointed out the refitting cost of ‘pay at pump’ equipment is prohibitive to most fuel stations.There is no simple low cost solution except for fuel thieves and vehicles to be captured on camera (many fuel stations have CCTV and number plate recognition) and a black list could then be uploaded to a website displaying offenders & their number plates which can then be accessed by other fuel stations to fore warn them. But at the end of the day stealing is still theft and who else can we turn to but the police?
Give the forecourt operators the same rights as speed camera operators to chase down & deal with the perpetrators of this crime which costs everyone involved with the legal supply & use of fuel a fortune.