Combatting Criminal Activity in Petrol Stations

01 February, 2024

There is an alarming increase in theft and crime in the retail sector. According to the ACS Voice of Local Shops survey, nearly two-thirds of retailers have experienced theft in their stores. More than a third say theft has increased. While all retailers are at risk, petrol forecourts are especially vulnerable.

Operating at late hours, often handling large amounts of cash, and a lack of staffing and security means that these retailers are prime targets for both opportunistic and organised criminals.

Incidents That Occur in Petrol Stations

Some incidents that petrol stations may face include:


A report by ITV News states there is an “epidemic of shoplifting” in the UK. This is backed by data from the Office For National Statistics (ONS), which shows a 24% increase in shoplifting. According to James Lowman, the Chief Executive of ACS, ”Convenience retailers are facing unprecedented levels of theft against their businesses at the hands of prolific offenders who are targeting stores repeatedly without fear of reproach. These incidents take a huge toll on retailers and their colleagues.”

Organised Crime 

High-value items like cigarettes, baby formula, and alcohol are stolen by opportunistic individual criminals (such as drug addicts who attempt to fund their habit) as well as syndicates that resell the items. These items are shoplifted or stolen in “grab and go” incidents where offenders simply run up to the counter and snatch items off the shelf.

Assaults and Verbal Abuse Against Staff

Forecourt staff are at risk of verbal as well as physical abuse from members of the public. Tesco UK CEO Jason Tarry has said that the most troubling aspect of the rise in retail crime has been the “surge in assaults and abuse seen against colleagues in stores.” He states that incidents of violence against staff have increased by a third year on year

This has had a significant impact on staff, with 19% of shopkeepers stating they have thought about leaving the profession due to crime. 

Armed Robberies

There has also been an increase in armed robberies, with perpetrators attacking forecourt stores with guns, knives, and even axes. This poses a risk not only to staff but also to members of the public.

Combating Crime in Petrol Stations

The best defence against these crimes is to install safety screens. Tesco and other stores have already committed to the installation of safety screens in more than 250 Express locations and petrol forecourts in a bid to improve the safety and well-being of their employees. 

These screens can protect valuable behind-the-counter stock, prevent staff from being physically attacked during a criminal incident, and provide a sense of security without hampering operations. 

It’s important to choose the right screen solution; however, SafeShield UL Security Screens is a secure area screening system specifically designed to provide protection for both customers and staff in various settings, with a particular emphasis on petrol forecourts. This security solution is engineered to safeguard against physical attacks and attempts to breach counter areas by assailants, especially in operations where the exchange of goods or objects through a secure line like a glazed screen is a necessity.

Safetell facilitates seamless operations without compromising safety with products that include the CashFast and Night Pay Hatch Drawers. The Night Pay Hatch fits seamlessly into an aperture cut into the wall and counter surface, providing a low-cost and effective solution to withstand attacks and vandalism. When not in use, the bulk drawer securely locks into a closed position, offering added protection.

The CashFast – Night Pay Drawer takes the security measures a step further with an electronic speech system, ensuring excellent communication between staff and customers on both sides of the transaction. The stand-alone installation of the 

CashFast allows for easy integration into existing setups. The larger bulk goods drawer enables the transfer of larger items, eliminating the need for a second tray.

Safetell is Safety Pass Alliance (SPA) accredited, which means they are accredited to install products in forecourts across the UK.


Petrol stations are at risk of crime, including theft and threats against their staff. While crime cannot be prevented altogether, the impact can be mitigated through cutting-edge security installations, such as the screens provided by Safetell.

If you are concerned about safety at your forecourt, get in touch with Safetell today.