16 June 2021

How to protect your business against fuel theft 

Fuel is one of the biggest operating expenses in fleet management, but its costs aren’t limited to general use. According to a poll carried out by Fleet News, close to two-thirds (63.6%) of fleet managers have been victims of fuel theft or fraud; it’s an issue that costs UK businesses millions every year.

So how do you keep your fuel – and the operation it powers – secure? Below are some tips and techniques to consider for protecting against direct theft from fuel tanks and larger scale theft from fuel delivery vehicles.

Understand the threats

Fuel can be taken from you in various ways, and it pays to understand them all so you can defend your fleet appropriately.

Direct fuel tank theft

The most obvious threat comes from outsiders who can take fuel directly from a vehicle, either by piercing the tank or siphoning through an unsecured cap. Closer to your business, there’s the issue of drivers using fleet vehicles (and fuel) for their own personal benefit or worse, skimming fuel – that means removing it from their vehicle for use or sale elsewhere.

Fuel theft during transit (from tankers)

Theft from petroleum tankers in transit can be even more costly due to the amount of fuel at stake. International fleets are at a greater risk of being targeted by these types of thieves, but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen in the UK too. Knowing where your biggest threats lie will allow you to choose which prevention methods will be most effective for your business.

Educate your drivers

Open conversations with drivers should be your first step in tackling both main types of fuel theft.

Make a point of explaining the crime’s downsides: how it affects the business, and in turn, drivers’ job security. Make it clear how serious the consequences will be for anyone inside the business caught taking fuel by explaining internal disciplinary processes and potential police involvement.

To tackle external theft – especially from tankers in transit - talk to your drivers about what they should look out for while on the road or parked up: people getting unnecessarily close to their vehicles in quiet areas, fluctuating fuel levels, certain noises etc. Express as well the importance of sticking to planned delivery routes, and then monitor movements and fuel offloading using technology; more on that below.

Monitor fleet behaviour with software

If you’re going to address fuel theft, you really need to know when and where it’s going missing, but in a large fleet with a huge team of drivers moving around the country and beyond, identifying misuse can be difficult. This is where the right technology can help.

TouchStar’s FuelStar software is designed to help fleet managers and their drivers operate more efficiently by consolidating a wide range of data types: from navigation routes to detailed telematic data. In doing this, the technology not only reduces operating expenses, but it also makes irregularities in driver behaviour, vehicle usage and costs much easier to spot.

On a larger scale, FuelStar protects against fuel theft from tankers in transit by providing details of the quantities of fuel being metered from each vehicle, with precise times and locations. It can then deliver alerts in real-time if fuel is being offloaded from a vehicle in a location or at a time that is not on the driver’s authorised delivery route.

Invest in anti-theft devices

It might feel like an unnecessary expense if you’re yet to fall victim to fuel theft but fitting anti-theft hardware to your fleet vehicles is a great long-term investment. On the market today you’ll find a range of tools to deter and prevent theft, from basic anti-siphoning valves that can be fitted inside your tanks to digitised ‘smart’ fuel caps that monitor opening, closing and refilling in real-time. The latter will record fuel levels in a vehicle’s own fuel tank and pinpoint any locations where this level changes, so you can compare the data with your receipts to ensure all the fuel you pay for is making it into your tanks.

Choose fuel cards over credit and debit cards

The easier it is to manage and monitor your fuel expenses, the easier it’ll be to spot when you’re spending more than you should be. By using fuel cards instead of conventional credit or debit cards, you’ll bring all of your spending and the associated admin into a single place.

Cards can be linked to vehicles and drivers, with transactions displayed in a central portal, so you’ll quickly see irregular spending – whether drivers are skimming fuel for personal use or replacing fuel lost to external thieves. Added security benefits of fuel cards can include spending limits, PIN protection and, with some providers, misuse insurance.

Contact Us


We retain the information you supply to us solely in order to deal with your query. We do not share your data outside of Touchstar Technologies and we do not use it for marketing purposes.

Please confirm to continue