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Fuel theft prevention strategies

Gas and dash continue to plague operators, here's how to mitigate risks.

Employee and customer safety is our #1 priority in the wake of rising gas prices.

It is no secret the drive-offs and thefts are on the rise in every location in Ontario and so far we have not seen any coordinated government effort to mandate prepayment at the pumps, as officials do in British Columbia, Alberta and throughout the USA.

With that in mind, we have prepared some safety practices you should review with all of your on-site employees to ensure their safety and consistency of procedures when it comes to managing fuel thefts.

• Watch each vehicle pulling up to the pumps.
• Maintain high visibility to pump islands and driveways.
• Make eye contact with the customer when activating pumps.
• Monitor outside cameras.
• Note suspicious people or vehicles hanging around the site.
• Call police if you are suspicious of a person or certain events.
• Ask each and every customer at the pay point if they have purchased fuel.
• Pay attention to the outer island pumps, especially at peak hours, as fuel theft usually occurs when the site is busy.
• Monitor islands for card reader in dispenser confusion; customers occasionally need help.
• Use the intercom to acknowledge customers at the pumps.

Best practices

If a gas station attendant or witnesses fuel theft, here are some steps to consider. 

1. Gas station attendant should never leave the store: Personal safety always come first. It is imperative that the attendant never try to physically stop the person or chase after him or her.

2. Record any information that is relevant to the theft on a fuel theft form, such as:

• description of vehicle, make, model, colour, condition
• license plate number
• description of the driver or any passengers – gender, age, colour of clothing, etc.
• exact time and date
• amount of fuel stolen (litres, dollar)
• pump island and grade

3. The gas station attendant should print a receipt for the fuel theft and attach it to the Fuel Theft Report.

4. The gas station attendant should call the Police Service at his/her local number to report the fuel theft. Police will provide a case number for the offence. If you believe this is a repeat offender, then advise the police.

5.  If you have the video footage of the fuel theft, immediately mark it and set it aside for the police to reference.

6.  Call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS. Advise them of the incident. Retail Crime Stoppers will provide retailers an avenue to connect with the community by having images of those individuals responsible for criminal acts exposed through the local media.

Do your due diligence

If you can identify patterns in the occurrences of fuel theft, there are some actions you can take to mitigate the risk.

  • Many reported fuel thefts are actually false and simply made to cover employee theft of cash. Review the video tapes of your store to ensure that a purchase had in fact not been made.
  • Rotate your guest service attendants across different shifts, or arrange for additional support during the high-risk periods – the change in routine will throw off any repeat offenders.
  • If you aren’t on site when the theft happens, ask your gas station attendant to call you at home to advise you at the time of the incident. Question them about the event to confirm if it is authentic.
  • Review your fuel theft log weekly, looking for any patterns: Do all of the fuel thefts occur on one pump on a certain day? Do all fuel thefts occur while same gas station attendant is on shift?

A final step

Implement prepay at the high-risk pumps during the key fuel theft periods: Manage this carefully so as not to inconvenience your customers.

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