A recent spike in criminal drive-offs from forecourts has prompted renewed interest in unmanned fuel stations, according to a security company that offers integrated CCTV and ANPR for kiosk-driven and ‘pay-at-the-pump’ service areas.
The BOSS (British Oil Security Syndicate) crime index 2017 recorded its biggest ever rise in non-payment since the benchmark was launched in 2015 – rising from 97 to 104 points compared to the previous quarter. Forecourt operators may forego kiosk sales to reduce fuel losses that the forecourt trade body says are running at £30m each year.
Trevor Wallace, managing director of METRO Security said: “We have seen a lot of interest in the pay at pump solutions where we monitor re-fuelling, and even talk to drivers 24/7, remotely. Obviously, there is a trade-off with potential loss food and other sales, but many customers are doing the maths in terms of the locations and levels of footfall, and are coming to the conclusions that preventing the fraud is better than trying to re-coup the loss.
“We are agnostic in this debate as we provide solutions for both, but there is an understandable comfort from knowing that the fuel cannot be dispensed without it being paid for. There is not only the loss of the fuel, but also the lost time and wasted police hours, which is why BOSS launched its Payment Watch scheme.”
Payment Watch is the BOSS initiative which allows forecourt operators to chase NMOP (no means of payment) customers to clear their debts without involving the police. Since it was introduced, police call outs have reduced by almost 78 per cent and 4,600 police hours have been saved.
M.A.R.S (Metro Analytic Retail Solution) – which works with manned and unmanned forecourts – also dents criminal profits and reduce the number of police call outs, according to the security firm. M.A.R.S links the pumps to CCTV and ANPR, and can be activated remotely at the push of a button or click of a mouse.
In manned stations, remote monitoring based upon intelligence-led investigations post event also prevents the potential for conflict with the forecourt retail staff. METRO says that trials have shown six-figure performance improvements with estate roll-outs of M.A.R.S. Introduced as a crime-reducing solution, fuel company customers have also seen efficiency savings by reducing refuelling times.