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Petrol Theft Increases: How to Protect Your Outdoor Spaces, Car Parks and Machinery

Petrol Theft Increases: How to Protect Your Outdoor Spaces, Car Parks and Machinery
Petrol Theft Increases: How to Protect Your Outdoor Spaces, Car Parks and Machinery

Prices at the pump have continued to remain high after the fuel crisis earlier in the summer of 2022. Added to the current cost of living crisis, reports of surges in fuel-related thefts, illegal entry and damage to outdoor facilities, as well as thefts from parking areas and industrial machinery continue to cause concern.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reports that consumer petrol and oil costs have risen by 46.8% over the last 12 months.

Added to extreme rises in other living expenses, such as gas, electricity and groceries, and shortages in basic agricultural products, unlawful activities have also begun to increase at worrying rates, as fuel represents a valuable commodity with a higher resale value.

These issues mean that car park managers, commercial machinery owners and organisations responsible for outdoor spaces have a pressing need to reinforce their security provisions and upgrade monitoring to avoid becoming targets.

Increased Risks for Parked Vehicles

In June, the Petrol Retailers Association announced that petrol station theft had climbed by two-thirds, with 61% more ‘drive-off’ robberies where motorists deliberately leave a forecourt without attempting to pay.

The statistics are stark:

  • Up to ten incidents are being reported per day.
  • Retailers will lose £25 million in a year if this trend continues.
  • The cost to the industry, including consumers who cannot pay, is estimated to reach £41 million.

Some areas have been particularly badly hit, with Kent Online showing that thefts in the county rose 75%, at a cost per petrol station of £8,000, with little recourse to pursue prosecution or reparations through the police. The significant challenge for smaller operators is that if garages cannot recoup losses from criminal theft, the outcome will be similar for them. Forecourts tend to have at least some security provisions in place. Still, the sheer volume of theft means that franchises and independent businesses operating most petrol stations could face potential business closure.

Solutions to secure outdoor spaces

Petrol theft is likely to occur on forecourts, depots and sites – introducing new and advanced monitoring solutions is the first proactive step businesses can take to combat a wave of criminal activity in these areas. Surveillance is an effective preventative measure and can defend premises in remote locations or those at an elevated risk of theft.

Possible monitoring solutions to deter prospective criminals from attempting to gain illegal entry are below.

CCTV Towers

CCTV towers can be solar-powered or connected to main utilities. This temporary type of CCTV is a flexible surveillance option that can pan, zoom, focus and live-record intrusions or suspicious activities across large land areas.

solar CCTV tower

Fixed CCTV Surveillance

Hardwired or fixed CCTV cameras are installed as a permanent asset in a car park or commercial property, keeping premises safe with visible cameras as a criminal deterrent. Options include around-the-clock monitoring to activate a rapid response from security personnel or emergency services to control illegal activities.

Wireless Detection Systems

Wireless alarm systems are ideal for car parks without mains power or where there is a risk of wire tampering or vandalism that could leave a wired alarm network redundant. These systems can detect movement, transmit an instant alert, and secure a site 24/7, outside of operational hours.

Alarm Systems

Commercial-grade alarm systems detect a wide range of triggers and can cover broad or defined zones, covering specific storage areas, vehicle parking bays or wide perimeters as required.

intruder alarm

Access Management

Access control security systems use advanced electronics to verify the credentials of a vehicle or individual using features such as facial recognition and number plate detection (ANPR). Barriers or gates prevent access unless the system approves the visitor or member of personnel, or is deactivated with a secure access code or entry fob.

Concrete Barriers

Concrete barriers block unused entryways and perimeters to preclude vehicular access, stopping thieves from breaching boundaries. They can also be installed with anti-climb fencing to prevent individuals from entering the site. Some car park owners opt for temporary concrete barrier hire to defend their site during periods of increased fuel theft.

K9 Security Patrols

Canine patrols are an excellent deterrent and work with skilled handlers to detect movement, sound and scents in restricted access areas. Mobile patrols are also widely used and identify criminal activity even when other alarms have been bypassed.

Security Guards

Manned guarding provides a higher level of security where fuel theft is a chronic problem for local businesses or where the volume of vehicles or value of fuel stored onsite presents a critical risk. Accredited security guards can protect retail, commercial, warehousing and construction sites as well as car parks and are trained in security techniques and incident responses.

Security Patrols

In some cases, physical security patrols are required, to provide a real human presence around a site perimeter. Many high-risk businesses opt to complement their monitoring technology with staffed patrols, canine surveillance or blockades, which ensure that an attempted intrusion cannot proceed unchallenged.

Security Gates and Electric Fencing

Electric fences are a psychological and physical barrier to entry and deliver automatic alarms and safety-controlled shocks to prevent intruders from proceeding past your car park perimeter. Security gates, bollards and barriers can be managed via an access control system, providing a robust preventative measure that ensures a vehicle cannot enter a shielded space. Gates and turnstiles can be sliding, cantilevered, automated or manual, depending on the threats and site layout.

automatic barriers and bollards

Choosing the Right Security Strategy to Prevent Fuel Theft

Each of the above suggestions can safeguard premises from fuel theft. However, the right solutions will depend on the nature of the site, operational hours, key risks and the systems or security processes already in place.

The key is to review your security and ensure that any vulnerabilities are corrected, guarding your car park or business from the surges of robberies for the immediate and long-term.

For more information about any security solutions discussed in this article, please contact Clearway to discuss the best options to dissuade petrol theft at your premises.

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