By Rebecca Gray
Police are launching an operation to crack down on fuel theft from petrol stations across the Greater Glasgow region.
Officers from the Strathclyde police force will be taking part in the ForeCourt Watch 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.
Using a ‘ring-round’ system, Forecourt Watch will provide local petrol retailers with an early warning of any crimes being committed on service stations in their area, together with details of the suspects
and their vehicles.
They will be using a variety of tactics such as high-visibility patrols and plain vehicle patrols.
This system enables staff to be alert in case a car comes onto their forecourt to fill up the next time. When a service station suffers a drive-off, staff should then report it to the police. The scheme will also provide the police with information about suspect vehicles and general intelligence.
Superintendent Michelle Martin, Sub Divisional Officer based at Shettleston Police Office, commented:
“Over the last year we have seen a significant increase in the number of thefts from forecourts and we are proactively working together to a put a stop to this.”
“I would ask other motorists for help to catch these people who ‘drive off’ without paying. I am confident with their help and this new scheme we will make a difference and put a stop to fuel thefts in this area”.
Officers will also be using ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) to target stolen vehicles, vehicles without valid documentation and those with stolen registration plates.
ANPR operations involve officers using a sophisticated camera system to automatically capture the registration numbers of vehicles. The software reads the recognition and compares it against a variety of police databases.
David Miller, Manager of Silverburn Petrol Station, said: “I think this scheme will go a long way in fighting the current spate of drive-offs in the area. The new approach of working with other petrol stations may be the change we need to beat this problem.”
There are over thirty petrol stations in the Greater Glasgow area and all of them have suffered theft of fuel in the last 18 months.
Superintendent Michelle Martin added: “Some vehicles used in the initial theft of fuel are then used in more serious crimes. If we can establish that you have used your vehicle while committing an offence we can seize that vehicle and take action thorough the courts.”