Fuel theft? It’s time to get rid of the problem! 

You may not even assume it, but we assure you that you are dealing with fuel theft if you manage a fleet of vehicles. Regardless of whether it is a few passenger cars, a dozen construction machines or several hundred heavy trucks – such cases are more or less frequent in your company, and you may not even know it. There are many possibilities of theft, and they can cause much more problems than just a loss of several dozen euros on the route. Fortunately, you don’t have to be defenceless in the fight against this type of practice. Let’s see how Ruptela can help you reduce your losses, which may be more than you think. 

Let’s start with looking at the thefts themselves and the losses they cause. In recent years, this type of criminal activity has become such a broad and essential topic that scientific studies of the problem have started to appear all over the world. Some organizations have started to keep statistics as detailed as possible to determine the global impact of fuel theft from your truck. Yes, we are right, and we are not exaggerating. These types of situations are a classic example of the butterfly effect – stealing several hundred litres of diesel fuel from your truck’s tank in a forgotten parking lot somewhere in the middle of the route can have dire consequences for your business, for your customers, and ultimately for the entire market.

 

Let’s look at the available numbers first. In 2009 the International Road Transport Union (IRU), based in Geneva, conducted a research in the UK. During the six months of the project, it managed to register 894 cases of fuel theft directly from vehicles, which translated into around 320,000 litres, which in turn to about 533 stolen litres per transport company. The survey showed that 1 in 6 drivers fell victim to this incident in five years, and 61% of attacks took place in parking lots and vehicle maintenance areas. Moreover, 21% of the robbed drivers experienced violence during the attack and 35% of them said that the experience had affected their job. In the case of heavy trucks, which are most vulnerable to fuel theft due to the location of the fuel tank, losses are also caused by frequent damage to the tanks.

All this decreases the quality of transport services and increases their costs. Some companies decide to reduce the number of vehicles and drivers on routes simultaneously. The problem is that in the current socio-economic situation in the world, avoiding the theft of fuel from tanks in trucks without the use of specific security systems is becoming more and more difficult. As Lawrence Fennelly points out in his book, “The Handbook of Loss Prevention and Crime Prevention”, one of the key actions should be avoiding waiting in lines at terminals and parking lots. However, 2020 had a negative impact on this. Due to the restrictions introduced in countries related to the spread of the coronavirus, the queues at border crossings have returned. As a result of its withdrawal from the European Union, those who go to Great Britain will have to get used to them permanently.

Meanwhile, you may not even realize that your trucks are also victims of this type of practice. Most of the detected fuel thefts are caused by criminals lurking in parking lots on highways and at motels. However, a lot of undetected and difficult or even impossible to prove thefts and malversations are made by the drivers themselves. Some of them provide their principals with overpriced invoices, which allows them to conceal pouring out of the fuel or private use of the vehicle. Luca Urciouli, in his article in the Journal of Transportation Security, based on research carried out by him in Sweden, indicated that the most common theft occurs in company car parks (36%). There are also substitution cases – as indicated in the magazine “Autobusy”, in the study by Joanna Sokół and Stanisław Iwan from the Faculty of Engineering and Economics of Transport of the Maritime University of Szczecin in 2017, thieves sometimes replace the stolen fuel. In its place, fuel oil is poured into the tank so that the driver does not notice the loss. However, the oil has a different composition, and it can damage the engine. Nevertheless, if done successfully, changing the fuel to another fluid is undetectable, at least for some time – you can only become aware of it in the event of a breakdown or inspection.

But let’s get to what interests you the most: drivers and fleet managers are not defenceless in this fight. There are several different options available on the market. However, most of them have considerable disadvantages – they often do not protect against theft itself, but only possibly prevent another sale of fuel, as in the case of dyes for fuel marking, or focus only on one possibility, e.g. theft through fuel filler. Statistics show that security systems are most effective in action based on GPS trackers, combined with fuel cap sensors and monitoring other data. This option is offered by Ruptela, one of the leaders in the GPS monitoring market. The solution is linked to the TrustTrack system and tracks whether the truck’s fuel cap is closed or open. If it has been opened when the driver is not around, Ruptela’s software will send him an emergency SMS and a notification in the TrustTrack system. So the fundamental operating model is simple, but that’s not all. Monitoring the condition of the fuel cap is connected with the installation of a particular metal net in the filler itself, which prevents inserting the drainage tube into it, and at the same time, does not interfere with the regular operation of the vehicle and refuelling. Of course, the fuel cap is locked with a key. However, thanks to the TrustTrack software and special sensors in the fuel tank, it is possible to check the fuel level at any time remotely. This makes TrustTrack, in conjunction with monitoring the fuel cap state, an effective tool for preventing unwanted events and overall fuel cost administration. Thanks to simple and clear reports, you can easily determine the amount of used and refilled diesel fuel, which in turn will allow for the development of specific and accurate information on its costs. Customers using Ruptela’s solutions already praise the fact, that they were able to reduce the fuel losses that occurred during overnight stops, which previously plagued them to such an extent that some of them were losing around 8,000 euros per month (with 200 trucks in circulation and average loss on theft being around € 40).

It is, therefore, another option to avoid financial losses on fuel that Ruptela offers. It is called the Eco-Drive module, which helps drivers achieve an economical and fuel-efficient driving style. It is also worth remembering other valuable functionalities of the TrustTrack system itself, for example, planning route tasks (based on the latest maps and traffic information). Your drivers will never again have to make a further detour you’ll eliminate empty trips. All this, in turn, will have a positive impact on the company’s bank account, and thus on your turnover, income, and most importantly on the satisfaction and safety of your employees. Do you want to check how we can solve your fleet problems? Contact us!