Fuel theft bill costs homes and firms £2m

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A STAGGERING £2m of fuel was stolen last year from across the UK with South Yorkshire one of the worst-hit areas, new research shows.

The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, reveals the staggering amount of fuel taken from both businesses and homes across the UK across 12 months in 2015.

As well as being the second highest for commercial fuel theft with 2,382 recorded crimes, South Yorkshire was the area with the most domestic fuel crimes - 2,368.

Last night Britain’s leading distributor of fuels and lubricants Certas Energy, who obtained the figures, warned the problem could be much higher and called for it to be taken seriously.

Angus Blundell, director of marketing at Certas Energy, said “Although £2m is a shocking number, not all police forces held or recorded the total value of oil theft, meaning this could be the tip of the iceberg for oil theft. Whether the theft is bilking from a petrol forecourt, or draining heating oil from domestic oil tanks, it is important that these crimes are seen as severe as burglary.“

A shocking 19,755 commercial fuel thefts were recorded in 2015, compared to 9,429 recorded domestic fuel thefts. The total recorded value for commercial fuel theft, including reported thefts from petrol stations, was nearly £1,5m.

West Yorkshire was a hot spot for fuel theft from homes which totalled more than £275,000. The cost in the Humberside force area was £137,000.

Greater Manchester had the highest number of commercial fuel thefts, with a total of 3,804 reported in 2015. Dyfed-Powys police had the second highest rate of domestic theft, with 1,683 recorded instances. South Wales was the third highest, with 1,207 recorded thefts. The total recorded value for domestic fuel theft was more than £630,000.

The figures comes just months after The Yorkshire Post reported how police were accused of failing to protect petrol retailers after it emerged fewer than four per cent of fuel thieves had been successfully prosecuted in parts of Yorkshire.

Our analysis revealed that only a small fraction of the motorists who drove off with up to £120 of unpaid petrol were identified and brought to justice.

Petrol station owners called for consistency across police forces in reporting, recording and following up forecourt crimes which cost them more than £30m a year nationally.

Between 2013 and 2015 West Yorkshire Police only brought action against thieves in six per cent of its 10,769 petrol thefts and South Yorkshire brought action in just eight per cent of 1,802 cases last year.

This compared with North Yorkshire Police who resolved 18 per cent and Humberside Police’s rate of 38 per cent.

It was also revealed the percentage of drive-off thefts in Yorkshire resulting in action - which can include charges or a caution - had fallen in recent years.

The largest force West Yorkshire resolved only 3.7 per cent of 3,830 cases in 2015 - down from 7.3 per cent in 2013.

Police say detecting offences of this kind is reliant upon, in most cases, good quality CCTV to identify the offender or the registration number of the vehicle to track down the owner of the vehicle. If either of these are not available, in most cases, there are very few additional lines of enquiry.