POLICE in West Fife have launched a new crackdown on motorists who fill up and drive off from petrol stations without paying.

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 and retail staff to increase awareness, how to prevent it and to encourage reporting of these incidents.

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; 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 share information with police and each other on suspects, vehicles and known offenders.

A pilot Forecourt Watch, launched initially in Dunfermline a number of years ago, saw a reduction of 35 per cent in reported fuel thefts at participating service stations, compared to an increase elsewhere of 17 per cent.