New data obtained by the RAC Foundation has revealed the number of drivers stealing fuel from forecourts has soared.
Between July and September the RAC said there was 39,563 incidents and forecourt owners had attempted to find offenders.
Compared to the same period in 2022 this is up 77% from 22,335 which is a fourfold increase, the RAC Foundation said the rise could be “systematic criminal activity.”
RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “Among all the recent media attention given to the epidemic of shoplifting, it should probably come as no surprise to find that the theft of petrol and diesel from forecourts looks to be a big and growing problem, and these figures might only hint at a much bigger issue.
“While it may be that the cost-of-living crisis is tempting some people to risk driving off without paying, the real headache for fuel suppliers is if this is a sign of more systematic criminal activity.
“The message to anyone tempted to bilk the service station must be ‘Don’t fill up if you can’t pay up’ because getting caught is a real possibility, and financial losses to companies ultimately lead to higher prices for us all.”