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Criminal drive-off spike prompts interest in unmanned stations

A recent spike in criminal drive-offs from forecourts has prompted renewed interest in unmanned fuel stations, according to Metro Security which provides technology that integrates CCTV and ANPR for both 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 where the trend had been consistently down over a two year period.

Based upon the philosophy that prevention is always better than cure, forecourt operators look set to forego additional kiosk sales in order to reduce fuel losses that are running at £30 million each year.

“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,” said Trevor Wallace, managing director of Metro.

“Obviously, there is a trade-off with potential losses on 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 conclusion 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,” said Wallace.

Payment Watch is the industry’s successful 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.

Building upon this, M.A.R.S (Metro Analytic Retail Solution) – which works with both manned and unmanned forecourts - also dents criminal profits and reduces the number of police call outs to what many in the industry call the ‘crisis of bilking Britain.’

Drive-offs have risen from £26 million to £31 million per annum in the last six years, according to the Petrol Retailer’s Association (PRA) and there is a persistent percentage of incidents where payment is never retrieved or offenders taken to task.

M.A.R.S. is an integrated technology that links the pumps to CCTV and ANPR and can be activated remotely to provide vital, high-quality evidence and intelligence of both malicious and non-malicious customer and staff behaviours, all 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, another key feature as violence against retail staff has doubled in the last 12 months.

According to the British Retail Consortium (BRC) six in every 1,000 retail staff has been the subject of violence and aggression in the last 12 months, figures verified by the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) and shop workers union USDAW.

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.


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