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Petrol thieves lose easy ride

PUBLISHED: 15:27 24 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:47 23 August 2010

POLICE have launched a countywide campaign to tackle service station petrol thefts following the success of a one-month pilot scheme. Forecourt Watch, a scheme intended to crackdown on forecourt petrol theft or bilking , was launched by Kent Police with

POLICE have launched a countywide campaign to tackle service station petrol thefts following the success of a one-month pilot scheme.

Forecourt Watch, a scheme intended to crackdown on forecourt petrol theft or 'bilking', was launched by Kent Police with the backing of British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS) at the BP service station at Tollgate, Dartford, last Wednesday.

The campaign was rolled out countywide following the success of a pilot scheme held in Dartford and Gravesham in March.

Statistics showed the two north Kent boroughs suffered the highest incidence of offences in the county between January 2005 and April 2008.

In 2008 741 offences were reported with some months seeing as many as 80 incidents, but during the pilot scheme offences fell by 38 per cent.

Head of partnerships and crime reduction, Chief Inspector Lee Russell said: "Kent Police is working closely with BOSS to reduce petrol thefts and make service station forecourts safer.

"Occasionally people genuinely forget to pay for petrol, or forget their purse, however, most non-payments are by criminals using stolen vehicles or stolen number plates.

"The North Kent pilot was really successful and saw a huge reduction in petrol thefts. We hope to replicate this success across the

county."

Officers will be visiting all sites in Kent, some 300 service stations, to distribute posters, petrol pump stickers and a newsletter that highlights the number plates of vehicles potentially involved with fuel thefts.

Neighbourhood officers will also be offering crime prevention advice to motorists and provide a new reporting form to make it easier for forecourt staff to report petrol theft.

Service stations will also be able to sign up to receive regular bulletins from neighbourhood watch via the Kent community messaging system.

Kevin Eastwood, executive director of BOSS, said: "Drive-offs and no means of payment incidents cost the UK petrol industry approximately £30 million every year.

"By building successful partnerships with local police, petrol retailers and other agencies through initiatives such as the Forecourt Watch schemes, we are able to deter and prevent crime on petrol forecourts.

"Our aim is to maintain petrol stations as a safe environment for customers and staff.

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