Fuel theft is on the rise. In order to counter this threat, Merridale provides workshops with advice on how to protect vehicles and storage tanks from this spate of organised crime.
Fuel theft is an ongoing concern for the road transport and haulage sector. Fuel is stolen from vehicles and storage tanks via siphoning equipment, which can vary from basic tubes to more sophisticated arrangements, involving pumps and the cutting of fuel lines. More recently, however, the problem has escalated, with large thefts being made directly from depot bulk-storage tanks.
These thefts are far more sophisticated; involving long-term planning, resources, and a vehicle capable of transporting the large volumes being stolen. This type of attack is usually repetitive, with thousands of litres being stolen every few days. If not detected quickly, this can continue for weeks, resulting in hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel being stolen.
Merridale has seen several of its customers fall victim to this type of theft in recent months, with a total fuel loss between them of around a quarter of a million litres.
Merridale’s Technical Director, John Russell, commented, “These cases are more than just ‘turn up and steal something’. It’s organised crime on a large scale.
“Evidence shows that after selecting a target storage tank, the thieves will set up first by drilling an access hole into the side or top of the tank. This will then be covered and disguised to avoid detection. They will then return at a later date, equipped with a suitable vehicle and the equipment required to extract the fuel.
“Pipework will be laid through undergrowth and shrubland for hundreds of metres, to an out-of-the-way location that is suitable for operating the pumping equipment and accessible to the vehicle. The criminals will then pump out several thousand litres at night, and return every two or three nights to repeat the process.
“Tanks at the perimeter of a compound next to trees and bushes are, therefore, most at risk. Our experience shows that security fencing, 24-hour site manning and CCTV do not appear to be a barrier to this type of operation.”
A full Merridale package includes a high- accuracy tank management system. This, combined with the Merridale FuelWorks service, can now provide warnings in the event of an unauthorised or unexpected drop in the contents level of the bulk- storage tank. If a theft appears to be in progress, FuelWorks will send real-time alerts to designated personnel. These alerts will continue periodically until the stock level has stopped dropping.
Stock loss warnings
Russell said, “For customers with earlier generation Merridale tank gauges, or management systems that do not have this capability, FuelWorks will still carry out a reconciliation process after the end-of-day dip. This has also been enhanced to detect any unexplained drop in fuel and, should any serious discrepancy be detected, users set up to receive Tank Alarms Alerts will now receive a warning by email.
“Any large negative adjustment on a stock reconciliation report should always be investigated. You may simply have entered a delivery incorrectly, but you may just possibly be having your fuel stolen.”