Petrol Theft Plan Working in Berkshire

7 December 2011, 05:00 | Updated: 7 December 2011, 08:09

The number of drive-offs from petrol stations in Wokingham's fallen by a fifth since a crack-down started in September.

The Deputy Area Commander has told Heart the drop has come after they joined up with the oil industry to give petrol station staff more training and advice on what to look out for.

From January to September there were 332 case of people taking fuel - called bilking. Across the Thames Valley there were more than 3,000 cases.

But in October there were 48 bilking crimes in the Wokingham area. This went down to 39 in November.

"It's all about demeanor of people and behaviour of people who come into the forecourts, the way that they conduct themselves.

"We've got people who've got experience in dealing with this problem for many years and they give advice and training to look out for those warning signs."

He's also told Heart members of the public can help by reporting suspicious behaviour to staff or police.

Things to watch out for include people hiding their faces, how they drive the car and people choosing parts of the forecourt that are badly lit and less visible to staff.

It's a joint campaign with local service stations and the British Oil Security Syndicate (BOSS).

BOSS regional co-ordinator Peter Fender added:

"Drive-off incidents cost the UK oil industry approximately £20 million in 2010.

"By building successful partnerships with local police, fuel 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 service stations as a safe environment for customers and staff, targeting those people who drive off without paying for their fuel and who use service stations as a route to commit more serious crimes."