THOSE who fill up and drive off from fuel stations without paying are the target of a new scheme launched by police and industry partners.

Fife Police Division has joined forces with the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS), Dunfermline & West Fife Community Safety Panel and independent retailers to introduce the ‘Forecourt Watch’.The scheme creates closer links between police, BOSS and retail staff to increase awareness of this type of crime, how to prevent this and to encourage reporting of these incidents.

Marking the launch of the scheme in Sergeant Kenny Greig said: "We are committed to working in partnership with those in the retail sector to reduce theft.

“We hope that this initiative will lead to positive changes in the way we manage forecourt crime - decreasing fuel theft and increasing the number of people detected for such crimes.

“It’s unacceptable that a small minority of motorists feel that they don’t have to pay for fuel, while others should. Fuel theft is not a victimless crime and has an impact on consumers, retailers and the police.”

Research shows that fuel theft is often linked to offenders or vehicles involved in other types of crime, as well as to disqualified drivers, those without insurance, tax or MOT, or vehicles with false number plates.

Service stations will work alongside the police and BOSS to help bring those responsible for all types of road traffic offences to justice.

High visibility stickers and posters on the forecourt itself will raise awareness among customers and potential thieves that Forecourt Watch is in operation, and that making off without payment is a criminal offence.

Service stations registered with the scheme will also benefit from sharing information with police and each other on suspects, vehicles and known offenders to maximise prevention opportunities.

Bruce Nichol, BOSS Regional Co-ordinator, said: "Drive-offs and No Means of Payment incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £30 million every year.

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

“Our aim is to maintain fuel stations as a safe environment for customers and staff. Fuel retailers in the area have joined the scheme, which will target those people who drive off without paying for their fuel and use service stations as a route to commit more serious crimes.”