Fuel theft – the underlying cause of the increase
A sharp rise in fuel prices in Europe. This situation resulted in an equally high growth in the theft of gas, oil, diesel and petrol. No one can feel safe. These practices vary in size and intensity. The pandemic has already led to an increase in runaways from petrol stations after refuelling. The reason is obvious – the mask enhanced the sense of impunity. There are also cases when a single resident becomes the neighborhood’s fearsome person. Recently, the police in Inowrocław succeeded in capturing a 37-year-old who had been stealing fuel from city buses for over a year. His total fuel theft count is over 200 litres of fuel and he faces 10 years imprisonment.
Organised criminal groups of fuel thefts
There are also, less frequently but nevertheless, situations in which an unaware driver – who has paid – drives home from a petrol station and the next morning discovers that he or she has been followed and someone has drawn all the petrol off the tank under cover of darkness. The police are regularly reported on incidents of this kind.
Polish law must react for the present situation. Today, the theft of this type of fuel is classified into two act qualifications – an offense and a crime. An offence means theft up to £500, and the apprehended offender then simply pays back the equivalent of the appropriated good. On the other hand, any crime (theft of fuel over £500) entails much more serious legal consequences. Today we know that there is a draft amendment to the Penal Code. After the amendment, any refuelling and escaping from the station will be treated as a crime.
Unfortunately, this type of theft far more often carries the hallmarks of organised crime group activity. Construction sites, industrial areas or farms are especially vulnerable. That’s where the heavy machinery is located, which is an attractive target for thieves. Nowadays we face a situation where it is the fuel that is more precious to the criminal than the equipment or vehicle itself. In this case, stolen oil or petrol is a real drama – no matter whether we talk about construction machinery, tractors or combines. Any loss, apart from the financial loss, is associated with a work stoppage and the fact that daily rituals, such as in the fields, cannot be carried out. There was a story recently about a farmer who unexpectedly lost 370 litres of fuel.
The problem is not new and will not disappear quickly
The crime statistics relating to fuel theft are alarming. There were a total of 140 fuel thefts last year in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship alone, and there have already been 60 such incidents this year. The problem is escalating – annual thefts of this kind are estimated to expose companies to approximately PLN 14 million in losses, and this sum will only rise.
The situation in our western neighbour seems to be equally worrying. In the district of Rostock in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, large-scale thefts have recently taken a turn for the worse. Fuel is disappearing either from agricultural machinery or tankers, having an impact on the economy of the region and the possibility of carrying out field work. The local police reports state clearly – they have faced 13 crimes of this type this year, with losses estimated at around €13,000.
Fuel theft – a potential solution
The battle against all kinds of fuel robbers will go on. In fact, it does not seem likely that the economic and political situation will change any time soon. Taking this into account, it is worth considering extra facility security using the most up-to-date technology. Video surveillance systems based on artificial intelligence algorithms are perfectly suited to places where fuel stored in larger amounts might be valuable loot for criminals. Thanks to its rapid response time and ability to scan multiple elements of space, this technology – plus with no risk of human error – will be an immeasurable aid to fuel security. And actually not just then.
AlarmTower technology also provides a suitable alternative for short periods, e.g. for the construction of any temporary activity such as material or fuel storage. AlarmTower rental is even ten times cheaper than personal security at the same scale and with higher efficiency. The solution is simple and quick to implement. It does not require a long-term contract either. You can find out more about the options of our monitoring towers in the dedicated tab – click and find out more.