Rising incidents of unpaid fuel have pushed the latest Forecourt Crime Index to a new record high of 244, according to BOSS, the British Oil Security Syndicate.
During the three months to 30 September 2022 (Q3 2022) the BOSS Forecourt Crime Index increased 16.7% to 244.1 (209.2: Q2 2022), reaching the highest level since the Index was introduced in 2015. The Index collates reports of No Means of Payment (NMoP) and Drive Off incidents made to BOSS Payment Watch, the specialist forecourt fuel loss recovery service.
BOSS has found that during Q3 2022 NMoP incident reports increased by 18.3%, while the number of Drive Off incidents climbed by 13.8%. Incidents of unpaid fuel are 32% higher than in Q3 2021.
The average number of incidents per site advanced to 24.8 (21.7: Q2 2022). NMoP incidents accounted for 65% of all reports and the cost of each incident averaged £78.37 (£75.54: Q2 2022), while the average cost of a Drive Off incident cost increased to £56.63 per incident (£53.82: Q2 2022).
Although the cost of fuel eased during the quarter, with a modest rise of 2.5% to an average of 175.8 pence per litre (ppl), BOSS estimate average annual losses per forecourt outlet increasing 22% to £7,026.67 (Q2 2022: £5,766.44).
Fuel prices peaked at 188.5 ppl in July before easing to 165.3 ppl during September. Leading to a Q3 average of 175.8 pence per litre (ppl) for unleaded petrol (171.7 ppl: Q2 2022).
Performance of the BOSS Payment Watch debt recovery service improved during Q3 2022. On forecourts where BOSS Payment Watch operates 86% of NMoP fuel debts were collected and where BOSS receives valid vehicle information 97% of Drive Off incident debts are collected.
Claire Nichol, the executive director at BOSS, said: “Over the summer months the Forecourt Crime Index climbed to record levels. The trend is on the upward curve and even in the face of falling fuel prices, we expect incidents of unpaid fuel to keep growing.
“Forecourts are at greater risk of unpaid fuel incidents during peak periods. Carefully recording information about each unpaid fuel incident means that if a motorist does not return to make a payment, we can be more successful at pursuing those who either forget to pay or deliberately evade payment.
“BOSS Payment Watch provides forecourt operators with a robust process to record vehicle details and recover money owed from Drive-Off and No Means of Payment incidents. The success rate has recently improved thanks to more retailers reporting incidents using our online reporting portal.
“Recovering debts from incidents is dependent on the quality of incident reports. For example, where vehicle information is valid, the BOSS Payment Watch team is successfully collecting 97% of Drive Off incident debts.”
Forecourt crime reduction guides that help forecourt retailers reduce incidents and keep forecourts safe places to work and shop are available from BOSS. A free copy of the BOSS Drive-Off Prevention guide can be downloaded from the BOSS website at https://bossuk.org/guidance