Suffolk: Bilkers takes almost £80k in forecourt raids

Bilking costs revealed

Bilking costs revealed - Credit: PA

TENS of thousands of pounds of fuel has been stolen from forecourts across Suffolk in the last five years, it can be revealed.

Filling stations in Forest Heath have been the most commonly targeted, with thieves making off with £25,085 worth of petrol and diesel without paying between 2008 and 2012.

In all £76,700 was stolen from the county’s pumps, with one garage alone seeing 132 cases of thefts, known as “drive offs” or “bilking”.

Police yesterday advised retailers to review their security arrangements to make sure offenders can be tracked down.

According to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act police have recorded 1,290 fuel theft crimes in the last five years, with more than 400 in Forest Heath.

The number recorded in Ipswich stood at 304, while Mid Suffolk had the lowest incidence of bilkings with just 63 in the same period.

However, the number of crimes last year has decreased over the past three years. In 2012 there were 244 recorded bilkings compared to 269 in 2010. Police have said the number of non-crimes, drive-offs that are believed to be a genuine mistake, stands at 1,891, with 185 in Forest Heath.

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Although the force does not hold conviction data, the figures reveal there have been 287 ‘positive disposals’, which means someone has been handed a charge, caution or community resolution for stealing fuel.

The most positive disposals came in Ipswich with 89, closely followed by Forest Heath with 74 and 31 in St Edmundsbury.

A spokesman for the Petrol Retailers’ Association said that despite the Suffolk figures, anecdotal evidence suggests bilking is on the rise nationally.

A spokesman for Suffolk Constabulary said: “With the rise in fuel costs we would always encourage retailers to review their security. Crime prevention advice can be offered and is given to fuel stations throughout the county, particularly advising the owners to install or upgrade CCTV systems and ensure that the forecourts are well-lit at night.”

He added: “This can help officers identify offending vehicles quickly and then make attempts to track down the owners.”