Fuel theft breaksdown double since January, says RAC

Article date: 21 July 2008

  • Rising fuel prices create a worrying trend

RAC has today released new figures* which show that breakdowns caused by fuel being stolen from vehicles has doubled since the beginning of this year.

The RAC data reveals the extent to which the problem has swept over the UK in the past six months. Most regions have experienced significant fuel theft increases, with Londoners faring worst, reporting a startling 500% rise.

How the problem has escalated across the country since January:

  1. Greater London - 500%
  2. South West - 218%
  3. West Midlands - 100%
  4. North West - 100%
  5. East Midlands - 85%
  6. South East - 57%
  7. Scotland - 27%
  8. Wales - 25%

RAC patrolman Prakesh Patel, explains: "These figures are clearly symptomatic of the desperation motorists are feeling amid rising fuel costs. The actual numbers of fuel theft breakdowns may still be relatively small, but it's alarming that we've seen such dramatic increases reported since the beginning of the year. Until the government acts in the interest of motorists and reduces not just freezes taxes, I fear we are at the beginning of a worrying trend.

"Victims don't just have to fork out for replacement fuel, there is also evidence that running cars with insufficient fuel can cause additional damage. Fuel pumps can become overheated or moisture can get into the tank which can make it rust. We are urging drivers to be more vigilant to both protect their own fuel stock and also report anyone who is trying to make money by selling on stolen petrol."

To help reduce fuel thefts, RAC has released the following top tips:

  1. Park in well lit and preferably off-road areas whenever possible - fuel thieves don't want to be seen
  2. Ensure your fuel cap is locked and secure
  3. Don't encourage fuel theft - if you are offered fuel you think could have been siphoned from another vehicle, call the police. Apart from it being illegal, the fuel could be contaminated, causing damage to your vehicle's fuel system - some companies place dyes and covert marking into fuels, so you could be tracked
  4. Check fuel levels when you switch off your engine and check again before you use your car again - if the level is suspiciously lower than expected, look around the vehicle for signs of theft prior to turning the key
  5. If you smell fuel when returning to your vehicle, or see a puddle of liquid, keep away from the car, and don't turn on the ignition. Call your breakdown organisation, and whatever you do, don't light a cigarette whilst you're waiting!


* Figures run from January to June 2008

RAC Press office contact:
Jon Day 01603 209287 / 07800 690555, Jennifer Hardisty on 0207 908 6465/ /Amy Funston on 0207 908 6433.

ISDN telephone interviews available. Interviews with patrol Prakesh Patel can be arranged in London.

Notes to editors

About RAC
With around seven million members, RAC is one of the UK's most progressive motoring organizations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, windscreen repair and replacement, learning to drive, vehicle inspections and checks, legal and financial services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information - RAC is able to meet motorists' needs. RAC incorporates BSM, RAC Auto Windscreens, RAC Direct Insurance and HPI.

RAC is committed to providing the very highest levels of service to its members and has been ranked first for customer service by J.D. Power and Associates' UK Roadside Assistance Study for the past two years.

Aviva bought RAC in May 2005. The acquisition brings together RAC's powerful brand and customer base with the expertise and leading position in motor insurance of Norwich Union Insurance (part of Aviva). Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer, insuring one in seven motor vehicles and with a market share of around 15 per cent.

RAC's news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.racnews.co.uk.

Back to top