- Nearly one in 10 (8%) Brits admit to having filled up their car with fuel and driven off without paying -


  • In 2015 the highest number of motorists caught stealing fuel was in the West Midlands (4,000+)
  • More than one in 10 (12%) ‘pump and run’ culprits admit they did so as they had no means of paying for their fuel
  • More than two-thirds (70%) of Brits believe fuel prices are too high


With petrol prices slowly creeping back up in price, cash-strapped motorists may be tempted to ‘pump and run’. And today, new FOI data obtained by Confused.com from Police Forces across the UK, reveals that motorists up and down the country committed 25,560 petrol thefts in 2015 alone.

According to the findings from the motor savings experts nearly one in 10 (8%) drivers have admitted to filling up their car with petrol and driving off without paying, which is also known as ‘bilking’, and is a criminal offence. And it would appear that fuel retailers in the West Midlands have been hit hardest by this criminal act. In the past 12 months, the West Midlands Police have recorded 4,027 occurrences of motorists ‘pumping and running’.

Worryingly, other drivers across the UK are also happy to not pay for their fuel – West Yorkshire Police aren’t too far behind with reports of 3,825 drivers making off without paying for their fuel in the last year.

Fuel Thefts recorded by Police forces across the UK2

Police Force

Number of motorists who have made off without paying for their fuel in 2015

West Midlands


West Yorkshire


Thames Valley






In a bid to tackle this growing problem, the Government is set to introduce a new scheme to address the number of motorists stealing fuel. The initiative is being launched by the police and they will be joining forces with major fuel retailers and distributors3.

However, not all fuel thefts are intentional, in fact the majority of people who have driven off without paying for their fuel appear to have done it accidentally (74%). And of those who have done so accidentally, nearly two fifths (38%) said they were distracted at the time. While others (17%) have simply just forgotten to pay to for their petrol.

Yet, alarmingly some drivers are happy to ‘pump and run’. In fact, of those motorists who have driven off without paying for their fuel, more than one in 10 (12%) made the conscious decision as they had no means of paying for it.

Deliberately filling up and driving off without paying is a criminal offence, but this doesn’t seem to deter some motorists, as only just over half of drivers (52%) who left the pump without paying returned immediately to settle their bill. So it therefore begs the question why are so many drivers happy to pump and run?

Rising costs of petrol could be a factor to consider with fuel prices having risen steadily over the last three months – adding 9p a litre to fuel so far this year4. So, perhaps then it comes as no surprise that nearly one in 10 (8%) Brits can understand why so many motorists would be happy to commit petrol theft as their believe fuel is so expensive.

And it would seem that petrol is a costly necessity for many, with motorists paying on average £119 a month3 to fill up their car with fuel. One in fourteen (7%) Brits spend between £151-£200 a month on fuel to keep their cars running. So, it might not surprise anyone to learn that more than two- thirds (70%) of Brits believe fuel prices are too high.

However, for those motorists who have ‘pumped and run’ in a bid to avoid the financial costs, there are other repercussions to consider. Of those Brits who have driven off without paying for their fuel, a fifth (20%) were contacted by the police to ensure the paid their bill.

More severe consequences for committing this crime include almost one in six (16%) drivers being fined for not paying their bill. And for nearly one in 10 (9%), a more incriminatory punishment was served with them being charged with theft. This may seem harsh to some, but nearly a third (30%) of Brits say this punishment fits the crime, and that anyone guilty of not paying for their fuel should be arrested.

Amanda Stretton, Motoring Editor at Confused.com, says: “It’s quite worrying to find out how many people across the UK have filled up their vehicle and driven off without paying for their fuel – over 25,000 motorists in 2015 alone. And it’s even more shocking to see that some motorists intentionally commit petrol theft.


“Yet, with petrol prices having risen in the last three months, it may be understandable why many may begrudge paying these prices. Yet despite these rising costs, petrol theft is a criminal offence and there are severe repercussions including being arrested and charged for theft.


“However, to help alleviate some of these fuel costs motorists should take the time to do their research and find out where they can buy the cheapest petrol in their area. Motorists need to be as savvy as ever to find the cheapest and most suitable prices for all their motoring expenses.”



Notes to Editors

Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll research on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK motorists that drive regularly. The research was conducted between 24th March and 29th March 2016.

1.Confused.com issued an FOI request to all 45 Police Forces in England, Scotland and Wales. Of these 33 responded. The FOI request asked Police Forces:


  1. 1.    How many motorists have driven off from a petrol station without paying for fuel in your force area in the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and so far in 2016. Please provide a breakdown of the number of motorists caught by each year and a breakdown by each month, and where the incident took place.

  2. 2.    How many motorists have been arrested and charged for driving off from a petrol station without paying for fuel in your force area in the years 2013, 2014, 2015 and so far in 2016. Please provide a breakdown of the number of motorists arrested/ charged by each year and a breakdown by each month.


2.Of the Police Forces that responded to the FOI request, each force will cover varying geographical areas. Therefore the data provided does not give a direct comparison between each Police Force.

3. http://www.bossuk.org/Home/NewsArticle/20