While you may trust your employees, have you effectively removed the temptation to commit a ‘crime of opportunity’? Is your fleet at risk of fuel theft, or shrinkage, that you are unaware of? Unfortunately, as the price of oil increases, there is an increasing chance that your fleet could be at risk from fuel theft.

Interestingly, refined fuel is a far more desirable target for thieves than crude oil since it is easier to sell or to take for personal use. So while oil companies expect a certain amount of crude oil theft (the standard industry allowance for theft is around 6%), fleets are actually more at risk and need to take extra precautions to minimize shrinkage. It keeps drivers honest and operating costs at a minimum, with an improvement in fleet profitability.

Telogis® Fleet™ has a built-in fuel efficiency module that can read fuel tank levels, fuel consumed by each vehicle, and fuel purchases in real time. This data can be compared against a vehicle average, making it easier to detect any abnormalities, a possible indication of fuel theft. It can also be used to monitor a vehicle's fuel economy.

Deteriorating fuel economy could mean several things. For example, maintenance may be needed, the operator may be driving uneconomically (e.g., hard braking, speeding, etc.), or employees may be stealing fuel. In any case, if a vehicle's fuel economy is getting significantly worse it is a warning sign that something is wrong, and it should be investigated.

5 ways to minimize fuel theft

1 – Educate your drivers on the dangers they face from fuel thieves

Discuss with your drivers the threat of fuel theft, which impacts fleet profitability and job security. Explain the systems the company has implemented to protect against it and to make them a less desirable target for fuel thieves. Take the opportunity to remind them of basic vehicle security, such as parking the vehicle securely at night and making sure fuel tanks are locked.

2 – Install fences, lighting and security cameras in vehicle or fuel yards

Vehicle yards are a popular target for fuel thieves, so make it as difficult as possible for them to get in unnoticed and leave without a trace. Secure fencing and bright lighting make your yard far more visible from the road, and less attractive to thieves. Security cameras can act as both a deterrent and an effective way to catch criminals if theft ever occurs.

3 – Fit vehicles with fuel sensors and anti-siphoning devices

Fuel sensors can be linked to your Telogis fleet management software, and exception alerts can be emailed to a mobile device if fuel is drawn outside of normal working hours. This can aid in catching thieves red-handed. Anti-siphoning devices can also act as a deterrent, although thieves have been known to drill directly into fuel tanks — highlighting both their determination and lack of regard for their own safety.

4 – Defensive parking

Park vehicles in a way that protects and blocks access to fuel tanks. This can add another layer of difficulty that may deter fuel thieves and cause them to move on to an easier target.

5 – Monitor your yard

Some fuel thieves will scope a yard during the day to target later that night. Take note of anyone acting suspiciously around your yard, perhaps engaging them to find out what they're doing. Using clear signage you can make it clear that your yard is not an easy target to anyone intending to steal fuel.

By being aware of fuel shrinkage and taking proactive measures to minimize it, you can improve your fleet's profitability. The value of taking these steps will only get greater as the cost of fuel continues to rise.