Opportunistic thieves are costing UK businesses an estimated 120 million a year by stealing fuel from commercial vehicles. Fuel thieves typically siphon off between 15 litres to 30 litres of diesel from a tank while a lorry or van is unattended perhaps when the driver is taking a short break or sometimes even asleep in the cab at night. Such fuel theft is often unnoticed allowing regular repeat offences without alerting operators
The problem is putting pressure on already hard-pressed hauliers who are working on very tight profit margins, and as diesel prices are rising above 107p a litre it is only likely to get worse. With an estimated annual UK commercial industry fuel bill of some 30 billion even the theft of some 2% represents 600 million off the bottom line and that is a conservative estimate.
Fuel theft is a growing problem that the transport industry is not keen to publicly acknowledge, but privately many operators admit it is costing them money which they can ill afford to lose in the current climate, said Russell Fowler, Chief Executive of TruckProtect, the UKs leading manufacturer of anti-fuel siphon devices for commercial vehicles.
Truck companies which fit anti-siphon devices such as our NeckIt! are reporting savings of between 2-4% on average on their fuel bills.
One of the biggest problems facing transport operators is that fuel theft via the regular siphoning of small amounts is hard to detect in an industry where genuine fuel consumption can vary by as much as 25%, according to a vast range of factors as diverse as tyre pressure, load, route chosen, weather and the way the vehicle is driven.
Given this wide range of variables, the loss of 15-30 litres at a time will almost certainly go unnoticed, but done regularly over a period of time the losses certainly add up, and it is very telling that companies which take effective measures to prevent fuel theft notice the difference on their bottom line.
Fuel theft is endemic worldwide, but because of its very nature it does not show up as a significant problem in official crime statistics. While there are instances of whole tanks being drained, leaving hauliers with the additional problem of stranded lorries and missed delivery deadlines, skimming is the most common form of fuel theft.
To put it into context, consider the example of a haulier who has a fleet of 250 trucks, each of which covers just 1,500 miles a week on average. Each truck uses 500 litres of fuel per week. Losing just 2% to fuel thieves adds up to 2,500 a week or 125,000 a year.
The popularity of TruckProtects NeckIt! devices shows how seriously hauliers and truck manufacturers take the problem of fuel theft. More than 100,000 devices have been sold and TruckProtect has national distribution agreements with DAF-TRP, MAN, Scania, Volvo-Renault, Unipart-TTC and Isuzu, along with many other dealers and distributors within the UK.
Mr Fowler founded TruckProtect in 2005 after realising that fuel theft was rife in the transport industry and that existing anti-siphon devices had many shortcomings. The NeckIt! effectively prevents both upper level tank siphoning and deep tank dipping. Robust, it has no moving parts and can cope with fast fuel filling of up to 120litre/min without fuel welling or splashback. It requires no potentially damaging drilling or gluing and can be easily transferred from one vehicle to another. Critically, it is Customs compliant.
There are InstantFit NECK-IT devices suitable for buses, coaches, plant and farm vehicles and now commercial vans. TruckProtect now has a global market with sales into more than 60 countries.