Combatting Fuel Theft

Higher fuel prices are spurring increased attempts by criminals to steal fuel. Essentially all fraud involving tampering requires access to the equipment, undetected altering of hardware, and knowledge of electronics, no matter what brand of dispenser is involved. Thieves are getting more and more bold, sophisticated, and aggressive.   Customers are encouraged to develop a security plan to help prevent fraud. No single solution will completely prevent attacks, but careful procedures can significantly reduce the opportunity.

Based on reports from your fellow retailers about incidences across a wide range of pump types and station designs, here are 15 ways to prevent gas theft:

1. Periodically change the programming access (PIN) codes on the manager’s keypad.  

This is the most effective method to prevent theft involving dispenser electronics. Trusted station employees and the Authorized Service Contractor (ASC) should be the only personnel with access to these codes. Keep access codes in a secure location known to all station management.

2. For areas subject to high risk of theft, add special keys/locks to replace the standard locks.  

This enhancement is extremely effective in preventing access to the dispenser. Custom locks are available in the market and can be installed on existing dispensers and new dispensers by your Authorized Service Contractor.  

3. Remove the manager’s keypads from the dispensers and store them in the station or another safe location.  

The keypads should be accessible to station management or ASCs should they be needed. A sign-out system can be used to track who last used the keypad. This step can be taken in addition to #1 above.  

4. Monitor and compare 'pump total' and 'station total' reports regularly on the store point of sale and automatic tank gauge.  

Station personnel can detect possible theft by noting the difference between 'pump totals' and 'station totals'.  

5. Maintain employee views of the fueling islands because thieves don’t like to be seen.  

If full view is not possible, due to merchandise displays or other obstructions, utilize video surveillance equipment. Equipment monitoring should be made obvious and signs stating its use should be posted.  

6. Be alert to any unit off-line message at the POS.  

Should station personnel observe an unexpected offline message, they should know the reason for this. If a customer seems to be fueling at the position offline, this could indicate a theft is in progress if fuel is being delivered.  

7. Be alert to service calls for dispensers that have been 'offline', which may indicate that fraud has occurred.  

8. Inspect your site frequently, keeping watch for loose pump faces, doors, stray wires, or other parts.  The shift supervisor should conduct a walk around at the start of each shift. 

Especially inspect for signs of tampering affecting security features (such as locks, special security kits, calibration seal wires, etc.) that indicate the devices may have been defeated or security compromised.  

9. Be alert for abnormal traffic patterns on the forecourt.  

Retail fuel suppliers recognize that merchants must protect themselves and their customers from fraud.

10. Be notified when an unauthorized breach of the dispenser has occurred. Your dispenser can be put into error state. 

11. Upgrade the pulser on your standard flow unit to an Encrypted Pulser to prevent thieves from placing counterfeit equipment in the dispenser or trying to change the volume signal. 

Reference Source: Gilbarco 

Fuel Theft