Fuel Theft – 8 methods you should be aware of as a Fleet Manager



Drivers and personnel who have access to fuel can be tempted to steal it, causing an acute problem for organisations both large and small. The inability to monitor your fuel and prevent theft can lead to significant financial loss.

There a multitude of methods that can be used to steal fuel, and effectively profit at the expense of the business. In this guide, we highlight these methods and explain how technology can help mitigate the risk of theft.

Drain Fuel directly from Tank

When fuel consumption is overestimated, drivers are provided with an opportunity to drain off the excess fuel provided, simply by putting a hose inside the tank.

Stealing from Return Line

Most vehicles and machinery are equipped with a supply and return line. This method of draining fuel requires the driver to add a T-fitting on the return line, allowing the collection of all fuel which should return to the tank.

Manipulation of Fuel Vouchers and Bills

Some companies use vouchers or cards as the mechanism for drivers to purchase fuel. Drivers can simply sell the cards, or fill a completely different vehicle with the fuel.

Inappropriate use of company vehicles

Drivers can use company vehicles and thus fuel for personal errands or even to complete “work on the side” on company time – making this method a double blow.

In addition, some drivers “invent” work which requires additional fuel. This fuel is of course, never used and instead, drained off by the driver.

Odometer Reprogramming

This activity can fool even the most switched on Fleet Manager, and is in fact a serious crime. Sealing the dashboard can prove useless as many devices allow drivers to change the odometer without direct access.

Driver Behaviour

Aggressive driving styles use more fuel, so to improve efficiency a steadier approach must be enforced. This often requires regular training and a range of rules, processes and technology.

Fuel Station Operator Fraud

Station operators are sometimes behind the fuel theft; they calibrate fuel machines to leave a percentage in their own tank, removing the difference at the end of the shift.

Cheaper Fuel or Substance Addition

Drivers can switch to a cheaper fuel while charging for a premium product, or mix in a chemical substance to the fuel tank so that less of the purchased fuel is required – the surplus can once again be drained off for personal use.

Fuel Theft and the Impact on Profits

As an organization operating in today’s competitive world, it is important to keep operational costs as low as possible to obtain maximum profits. Fuel theft in any form, is an issue that must be taken seriously to prevent unnecessary costs impacting margins.

Ultimately having this type of system in place should act as a deterrent to any staff considering fuel theft or even using vehicles and machinery for personal use.

In addition, a holistic fleet management system can improve other areas of your operation beyond prevention of fuel theft, driving efficiency and safety in your fleet overall.

To learn more about how to mitigate the risks listed above, download our guide which explains the role of technology:

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