Fuel Theft in the UK: Strategies for Prevention and Mitigation

Fuel theft has become a growing concern across the United Kingdom, with incidents on the rise and significant quantities of fuel being stolen. This guidance aims to shed light on the alarming trend of fuel theft, discuss the measures being taken to address the problem and provide practical strategies for individuals and businesses to prevent and mitigate such thefts.

fuel theft taking place

Increasing Incidences of Fuel Theft

UKIFDA (United Kingdom and Ireland Fuel Distributors Association) have issued an alert regarding the escalating cases of fuel theft across the UK. In the last few months alone, there have been five reported thefts, resulting in the loss of over 100,000 litres of fuel. The reported thefts have taken place in various regions throughout the country, including hot spots throughout Wales, Scotland, Midlands, and the Southwest, highlighting the widespread nature of this issue. Diesel and kerosene have been the primary targets of these thefts, but HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) thefts have also been on the rise due to its premium price.

The modus operandi of the thieves appears consistent, involving late-night and weekend thefts facilitated by the use of pipes, through fields or adjacent sites into depots and tanks. Siphoning pipes are quieter in operation than electric pumps. Notwithstanding this, police have sized a number of 12v fuel transfer pumps which can be powered from a single 12v car battery, making them a mobile threat that can be easily deployed to transfer fuel quickly.


Collaborative Efforts and Progress

Efforts to combat fuel theft have been underway in collaboration with the National Police Task Force. While some progress has been made in terms of leads and investigations, the persistent nature of these thefts underscores the need for proactive measures on the part of individuals and businesses to safeguard their fuel resources.


Fuel Theft Preventive Measures

The key to mitigating fuel theft lies in implementing a combination of preventive measures that deter criminals and make thefts more difficult to execute. Some recommended strategies include:

1. Enhanced CCTV Infrastructure: Visible surveillance cameras act as a powerful deterrent and can help capture evidence of thefts in progress.

2. Reinforced Security: Employ stronger security measures such as fences, multiple locks, and alarms to secure premises and fuel storage areas.

3. Secure Tanks: Position fuel tanks strategically, out of sight, and consider installing them within secure cages or behind barriers that hinder easy access. It is important to note that fuel storage tanks should be both positioned and installed in accordance with regulations. This is typically the Oil Storage / Control of Pollution Regulations and BS5410 for commercial installations.

4. Strategic Parking: Where possible, park vehicles in a manner that blocks access to fuel tanks, discouraging thieves from targeting them.

5. Fuel Management Systems: Implement a fuel management system to monitor fuel tank levels, enabling timely detection of any anomalies.

6. Mobile Bowsers: Invest in mobile fuel tanks that can be stored securely indoors or in alternative locations when not in use.

7. Fuel Dyeing: Treat the fuel with a distinct fuel dye to make it traceable and less appealing to thieves. Place clear signage on and around the tank stating that the fuel contains a traceable dye.

8. Outdoor Lighting: Illuminating fuel storage areas with motion-activated or dusk-to-dawn lighting can deter thieves who often operate under the cover of darkness.

9. Signage: Display signs indicating the presence of security measures to discourage potential thieves.

10. Steel Tanks: Consider using a steel storage tank. Steel tanks are harder to breach compared to plastic ones.

11. Awareness: Regularly check fuel tanks for spills, damage, or suspicious marks, which could indicate theft attempts.

12. Anti-Siphoning: Equip vehicles and fuel tanks with Anti-siphon devices.


Seasonal and Year-Round Vigilance

While fuel theft is more common during winter months due to longer nights and shorter days, it is crucial to maintain vigilance throughout the year. Remote locations, such as farms and construction sites, remain prime targets. Regular checks of fuel levels, locks, and surrounding areas can aid in early detection and prevention. Report all suspicious activity to your local community. 


Fuel Skimming: A Persistent Threat

A significant portion of fuel theft is attributed to fuel skimming, where small amounts of fuel are regularly siphoned off from the top of the tank. This practice is difficult to detect and often goes unnoticed. Strategies to combat fuel skimming include installing fuel anti-siphons, conducting regular checks, and ensuring drivers adhere to best practices.



Fuel theft poses a substantial threat to individuals, businesses, and communities across the UK. With increasing incidents and evolving techniques employed by thieves, proactive measures are essential to safeguard valuable fuel resources. By implementing a combination of security measures, surveillance technologies, and industry best practices, individuals and businesses can significantly reduce their vulnerability to fuel theft and contribute to a safer and more secure environment.

If you have concerns about potential fuel theft and would like to discuss options on how to improve your fuel storage security, don't hesitate to get in touch with our dedicated team of fuel system experts, who will be happy to assess your installation and provide appropriate, specialist advice.