reducing forecourt crime Tackling drive-offs and No means of payment

About Boss

BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate, campaigns to reduce forecourt crime and helps to keep petrol stations safe and secure environments for both customers and staff.

BOSS works in partnership with fuel retailers and the police to deal with Drive-Off (bilking) and No Means of Payment (NMoP) incidents. As a result BOSS helps fuel retailers reduce losses from forecourt crime  and recover money owed for unpaid fuel.

BOSS research has found that, on average, forecourt crime costs each fuel retailer approximately £10,500 per annum per site.

The police spend considerable time recording and dealing with Drive-Off incidents. They are becoming increasingly more difficult to deal with. BOSS estimates that each year police forces commit more than 800,000 resource hours to dealing with incidents of fuel theft.

BOSS has estimated that forecourt crime costs UK fuel retailers  £88 million per annum. BOSS has been instrumental in recovering more than £35 million p.a. owed to retailers. It also works with fuel retailers and the police to improve the efficiency of reporting Drive-Off and No Means of Payment (NMoP) incidents and bringing persistent offenders before the Courts.

The police sometimes refer to forecourt crime as bilking, the act of driving onto a petrol forecourt and deliberately driving off without paying. Home Office guidelines clearly state that making off without payment is a criminal act, but some forces often claim that Drive-Off and failure to pay are civil offences. Where an incident is reported through BOSS, it is treated with respect and BOSS considers all the evidence before pursuing an alleged offender.

BOSS reports on forecourt fuel crime trends with the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index.

BOSS is supported by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU); the Financial Fraud Action UK (FFA UK); the National Police Chiefs’ Council (formerly ACPO); the Scottish Business Resilience Centre (SBRC); the Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF); and the United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association (UKPIA).


Sign up for BOSS Payment Watch contact BOSS on 01926 864 757

How does BOSS make a difference...?

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Established in 1991, BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate, was formed by the major oil companies to raise awareness and share examples of best practices about fuel theft and forecourt crime.

BOSS developed Forecourt Watch in 1997 and it became one of the most effective forecourt crime prevention initiatives in the UK fuel retail sector. Since being introduced Forecourt Watch schemes have been protecting and safeguarding the well-being of customers and staff, helping to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

At its peak Forecourt Watch schemes operated across more than 70 areas of the United Kingdom. Forecourt Watch led to a substantial reduction in incidents, often seeing forecourt crime fall by more than 50% and in certain instances by up to 70%.

In 2009 detailed research by BOSS established that forecourt crime was costing forecourt retailers £30 million each year. Two-thirds of forecourt crime was the result of Drive-Off incidents and one-third were the result of No Means of Payment incidents.

In 2010 BOSS introduced the BOSS Payment Watch service to address the growing level of No Means of Payment incidents. The scheme has proved to be the most successful loss recovery scheme in the UK fuel retail sector. In addition to helping retailers recover more than £15 million per annum, the scheme acts as a deterrent against potential offenders.

BOSS worked closely with both law enforcement and other government agencies to improve understanding of the impact of fuel theft and encourage the authorities to treat it in a consistent manner. As a direct result in 2013, the Home Office changed its guidelines for the Crown Prosecution Service and the police, to clearly state that theft of fuel is a crime, and must be recorded as such.

More recently, after an extensive trial, in 2019 BOSS Payment Watch was extended to incorporate a wider service that deals with Drive-Offs. It has proved to be an effective tool in helping retailers to reduce losses.

On sites operating BOSS Payment Watch, 80% of motorists claiming NMoP return within seven days to pay for fuel taken. For Drive-Off incidents, the recovery rate, where the vehicle information is valid, rises to 93%.


Reducing losses from fuel crime since 1991

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What does BOSS Payment Watch cost?

Annual BOSS Payment Watch subscription is £150 + VAT per site per annum.

For a new user, there is a one-off registration and set-up fee of £50.00 + VAT.

New users are sent a BOSS Payment Watch starter pack. Each pack contains a complete set of documentation and access to an electronic reporting system for managing BOSS Payment Watch at each site.

Any fuel retailer in the UK can join BOSS Payment Watch.

BOSS supplies a Payment Watch pack complete with a full set of documentation.

Benefits of joining BOSS Payment Watch include:

  • Saves retailers time and effort in chasing No Means of Payment and Drive-Off debts.
  • An easy process for drivers to settle their debt.
  • Robust procedures for pursuing the debt in the event that drivers do not pay.
  • More than 80% of drivers claiming NMoP return to the site to pay within seven days.
  • Recovers more than 90% of Drive-Off incidents where vehicle data is correct.
  • Deters the professional criminal.
  • Joining BOSS Payment Watch will mean there are fewer forecourts for offenders to target.

Sign up for BOSS Payment Watch by contacting BOSS on 01926 864 757

Key Issues

Forecourt crime

Forecourt crime is crime of any nature committed in or around a petrol filling station. It can include driving off without paying for fuel, credit card fraud, and no means of payment fraud.

The British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) research has established that forecourt crime costs retailers more than £88 million annually. Two thirds of forecourt fuel crime results from No Means of Payment incidents (£66m p.a) with the remainder reported as Drive-Off incidents (£22m p.a). 

Information about incidents is collected by BOSS, and can be analysed to give retailers detailed reports about forecourt crime. This data can then help forecourt operators to manage their resources more efficiently, reduce losses, increase recovery and improve profitability.


Police refer to bilking as the act of driving onto a petrol station forecourt, drawing fuel and then deliberately driving off without paying. The same term is used for describing people who leave a restaurant or taxi with out paying for the goods or service received.

Making off without payment is a statutory offence in England and Wales, and Northern Ireland. It was first introduced on the recommendation of the Criminal Law Revision Committee and is intended to protect legitimate business concerns and applies where goods are supplied or a service is performed on the basis that payment will be made there and then.

A motorist who draws fuel at a service station and then drives off with intent to avoid payment of the amount due has committed a criminal offence.

Drive Offs

Drive-Offs fall into two categories. Firstly where a driver draws fuel, makes no attempt to pay and then drives off without paying. Secondly, there are incidents where a motorist draws fuel, enters the store and then fails to pay in-store. There may be many reasons for failing to pay in-store, whether a mistake or deliberate. Some police forces treat these incidents as civil offences while others treat them as a crime.

No Means of Payment (NMoP)

NMoP incidents occur when a motorist draws fuel and then claims to have no means to pay. There are many genuine cases and motorists will make every effort to make payment. Fuel retailers are increasingly sensitive to these mistakes, however, deliberate NMoP incidents represent approximately one-third of forecourt crime losses.

In 2013 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued new legal guidelines to police and prosecutors advising them to bring criminal charges against motorists who repeatedly fill up with fuel, claim to have no means of payment and then drive off with no intention of making a payment.

Under the CPS guidelines prosecution is recommended when a motorist can be shown to have repeatedly filled up without having any means of payment. Motorists who leave false details with the forecourt staff are committing a criminal offence.

BOSS Payment Watch helps to recover more than £15 million p.a for forecourt operators

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