How Is Fuel Being Stolen? And How Are Fuel Theft Prevention Systems Stopping It?

Fuel Management

There is no shortage of operational costs when it comes to managing any kind of vehicle fleet. There are driver wages, vehicle maintenance, insurance, tolls and, of course, fuel. Fuel is one of the most significant costs associated with owning fleet and as a result must be managed securely and effectively.

Unnecessarily high petrol costs can be caused by a multitude of issues: poor or little vehicle maintenance, fuel-inefficiency caused by uneconomical driving habits, bad road surfaces or even fuel theft. Fuel theft prevention systems are becoming a must-have for any large vehicle fleet that wants to keep their operational costs low and their profit margins wide.

Fuel theft detection may not be on the tip of every driver’s tongue but, it is a serious consideration for most in the transportation and land-freighting industries. As with any heavy expense, there is a risk associated with covering them and their potential increases. That is why any signs of petrol tampering or fraud must be investigated and prevented.

Eliminating theft and fraud is very hard to do with old, manual reporting systems and mechanical odometers. Digital age technologies are advancing fuel management and theft detection systems incredibly quickly and the first step in preventing – and eliminating – fuel theft is knowing how it is done.

False reporting of fuel consumption

Much of what makes manual logbooks risky for modern businesses is that false information can be recorded easily to cover up incompetence, mistakes or theft. It can be hard to consider that employees might be cheating the system but, the reality is that fuel is a very valuable resource; wasting it can be detrimental to a business and lucrative for those stealing it.

Manual logbooks and personal reporting can make keeping track of fuel purchases and consumption less reliable. Misreporting fuel consumption makes it possible for drivers to fill up other cars, skim money off the top of overestimated petrol usage and hide bad driving habits or unapproved routes and detours. Digital monitoring of the petrol being purchased by your fleet and how it is being used can prevent the misrepresenting of those numbers when using manual inputs.

Pumping fuel out of the tank

One might think of pumping fuel out of the petrol tank as something to do with a hose. The reality is that modern vehicles have some built-in preventative measures to stop the old-fashioned syphoning methods for petrol. The unfortunate reality of any security advancements is that there are new and desperate means of circumventing those features to pump fuel out of the tank anyway.

An, unfortunate, secondary harm caused by pumping fuel out of petrol tanks is the damage that these methods can cause. Many fleet managers will know the pain of a broken fuel feeding system and it is often the outcome of these illegal extraction methods.

Tampering with the odometer

Reducing the mileage readings of an odometer by causing it to stop during driving can be another method of hiding fuel theft, vehicle misuse or inappropriate fuel consumption. Staff could use a variety of external devices (such as large magnets or impulse generators) to stop, lower or add kilometres on their trips.

These methods are being used in an attempt to hide private use and extra routes, hide stolen petrol or get larger sums of money for “increased” fuel consumption and subsequent costs. Tampering with the odometer can be more difficult in the current state of vehicle technology but, it is still doable and hard to track while drivers are on long journeys.

Coercing consent for additional fuel purchases, hiding unapproved personal travelling and disguising fuel consumption and driving habits are just some of the reasons for odometer tampering. In the long run, it can also damage the electronics in your vehicle, hurt its resale value and disrupt business operations at large.

Underfilling the fuel tank

Even if receipts and logbooks are kept, there is always a chance that the fuel being pumped is not all ending up in your driver’s tank. A fleet manager will not miss tanks being filled with ten litres of petrol unaccounted for or unused. However, a few litres of petrol being pumped into a separate container or even the tank of another vehicle every so often.

It may seem like it would be easy to spot but, the hundreds of litres of petrol being used by a taxi fleet or long-haul trucks every month, would make it almost impossible to spot in small amounts. This can be a slippery slope for any manager; after losing a few litres of petrol every time their driver’s stop to refuel, the numbers could begin to stack up.

What can be done about it?

The fuel theft that could occur in a vehicle fleet is a serious liability for any company not equipped to handle it. Preventing the misuse, misreporting and stealing of petrol must be a top priority for any transportation or freighting business that does not want to lose their hard-earned profits.

Poor maintenance, bad driving and manual methods of monitoring fuel consumption are the easiest route to, unnecessarily, exorbitant petrol bills. Easily discover any of these issues and their methods with a modern fuel theft prevention system that helps you monitor and protect your fleet and its vehicles.