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
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)
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.
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
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.
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
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
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.