Industry views: How you can take steps to prevent crime in your store

by 17 May 2017

Industry views: How you can take steps to prevent crime in your store by Ellie Prior

Forecourt crime is a long-standing issue for fuel retailers, with forecourts across the UK losing millions every year. Incidents such as drivers leaving the site without payment, or stating no means of payment after pumping fuel and not returning to pay, as well as shoplifting and staff thefts from stores all contribute towards these losses.

In 2014, fuel theft alone cost retailers more than £31million; £21.7million of which was from drive-offs and £9.7million as a result of customers claiming no means of payment. This means that the average fuel retailer loses £3,600 per year from these crimes alone. In the current climate, with over 75% of petrol stations closing in the last 40 years, and with fuel margins falling, this is a pressing issue for all fuel retailers.

In order to prevent and recoup losses from forecourt crime, retailers can join forecourt crime prevention and management organisations such as BOSS (British Oil Security Syndicate) or Forecourt Eye.

BOSS is one of the leading forecourt crime stoppers in the UK, helping fuel retailers to ‘reduce the volume taken in drive-offs and no means of payment incidents, and where necessary efficiently recover losses incurred by retailers.’ BOSS provides their customers with three services; payment watch, forecourt watch and electronic reporting systems, working with government agencies, police forces and ACPO. Forecourt Eye provide debt recovery and civil litigation services, ensuring that losses are kept to a minimum, and thieves are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

In addition to the use of these organisations, there are several ways for fuel retailers to minimise the risk of crime on their forecourts, using observation and prevention techniques such as:

Be vigilant

  • Watch the driver
  • Are the vehicle doors open? Is the passenger filling the fuel? How is the vehicle parked?

Get a clear view of the driver/vehicle

  • Ensure that you have a clear view of the vehicle registration plates, and the customers face
  • Make sure any CCTV also has a clear view of the entire forecourt

Take action

  • If you are suspicious of a vehicle, go with your instinct and take action
  • Use a tannoy to make the driver aware that their actions are suspicious and ask them to rectify e.g. vehicle doors open
  • Do not authorise the pump until the issue has been resolved
  • If in doubt, request pre-payment

Crime in convenience

Crime in convenience has also experienced an increase; the ACS 2017 Crime Report found that crime against convenience retailers cost £232 million in 2016. ACS Chief Executive James Lowman said: “over the last year, many retailers have reported a significant increase in the level of crime against their stores.”

A substantial number of crimes in the convenience sector are internal, with 21,299 incidents of staff theft costing a total of £61 million reported by the ACS. The five most common internal thefts are direct theft from tills, lottery process, price overrides, consumption of products in-store, and fraudulent refunds. The ACS found that the average cost per staff theft incident was £2,870, but the investment in prevention was just £125.

Policies such as ensuring staff are briefed on investigatory procedures at staff meetings, and making sure they are aware that stock levels are carefully monitored can go a long way towards dissuading team members who might otherwise attempt theft. Technology can also be used to prevent and in the event of an incident, prosecute those responsible for internal crime.

There are numerous features on modern EPOS systems which can aid in highlighting and eliminating theft and staff fraud through enhanced security; for example individual staff log-ins on the tills allows transactions to be attributed to each member of staff, ensuring all transactions are accounted for.

Regular till spot checks can be completed, allowing checks for voids, refunds and use of discounts and promotions. Your EPOS system can be used to identify unusual activity, and produce shift and day end reports. These features mean that any wrong-doing by staff can be quickly identified, ensuring quick resolution of issues, and reducing the threat of internal theft.

Some EPOS systems can also be linked to your CCTV system, so that a CCTV time-stamped image of the till area can be linked to a particular transaction such as a void – this easy way to catch staff doing anything they shouldn’t not only assists with apprehension but also as a deterrent.

Unfortunately crime will always be a part of society, but taking these steps can go a long way towards minimising the risk to your store or forecourt.

To find out more about how TLM can help you use technology to prevent and reduce crime in your store please get in touch.

Author: Ellie Prior, Marketing Intern, TLM Technologies

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