Illegal fuel sales on the rise
The instability of forecourt fuel prices has led to an increase in sales of red diesel – which is intended solely for use in agricultural machinery – and fuel stolen directly from garages themselves, by a whopping 48 per cent.
Red diesel, so called because of the dye used to differentiate it from fuel intended for road vehicles, is perfectly safe for use in cars though drivers may face huge bills for unpaid tax from HMRC if caught.
Worryingly, criminals are using chemicals to strip the dye out of the fuel, but this can cause expensive damage to the engine, warned Luke Bosdet of the AA.
Speaking to The Telegraph, he also detailed the scale of thefts from forecourts: "Criminals were literally driving onto forecourts and stealing a vast quantity directly from the garage reservoirs.
"In recent months there have been a raft of raids on garages in Kent such as 9,500 litres from one transport company alone, with a forecourt value of more than £13,200."
HMRC has stepped up the number of visits to fuel sites in the UK, which it credits with the increase in detections.
The Petrol Retailers Association weren't surprised by the increase in illegal fuel supply, blaming the economic climate.
"A stagnant economy gives rise to unemployment, especially for younger people, and lowers real wages. The inevitable result is that criminal activity becomes an alternative despite the risks," said the PRA's Brian Madderson, to The Telegraph.
"Illicit fuel detections in Great Britain have increased by 132% over the last four years. Therefore it is now time for them to focus their efforts on Great Britain and the PRA will assist in any way possible."