Police fuel move could lead to more bike thefts
The Met Police have informed motorcycle interest groups in London that they want all petrol stations to enforce helmet removal by bikers. It could lead to more bike-jackings.
Petrol station operators in Greater London will be asked to adopt a policy of enforcing all motorcyclists to remove their helmets during refuelling, despite concerns over rider safety and discrimination.
Stations will be required to ask for the full removal of a helmet, including balaclavas.
The move, which the Met is currently positioning as voluntary by each petrol station, is to prevent criminals using motorcycles getting access to fuel.
Ironically, it is likely to see a rise in thefts of motorbikes purely for their fuel alone. If the moped gangs that have caused the spike in motorcycle crime are denied access at the pumps, they could simply target recently fuelled bikes.
We spoke to some couriers waiting outside a regularly hit petrol station in North London. At first, they welcomed the move, but when the safety and discriminatory aspects of helmet removal were pointed out, they were less keen on the idea. They told us of an incident where they witnessed a vehicle being taken after fuelling by spraying the owner with a substance from a bottle.
The issue arises mainly because petrol stations themselves have failed to make proper investments in the ANPR technology that can alert the forecourt attendant to a stolen vehicle.
Station owners argue that because motorbikes only have rear facing number plates, the cameras cannot always record the registration number.
Cars are also involved in the theft of fuel, but to date, we have not heard of any signage or requests from the police for wearers of headgear or sunglasses that can obscure an identity to remove their headwear.
There also remains the question why all petrol stations across London should follow the police when only a limited number have problems with regular fuel theft by moped gangs.
We contacted Metropolitan Police for a response and asked specifically about the issue of where else they expected thieves to obtain fuel. Commander Julian Bennett, Metropolitan Police Service said: “Police are working hard to keep the public safe and make the streets hostile territory for criminals who steal scooters, mopeds, motorbikes and use them to commit other crimes – we want to identify them.
“Suspects who commit these types of offences will need to refuel their vehicles at petrol stations and if they are required to remove their helmets and masks, they will be caught on CCTV which will help with identifications and arrests.
“In other instances, riders are stealing petrol by refuelling their vehicles at petrol stations and then riding off without paying. That is clearly a criminal offence and we need to identify those offenders as well.
“Currently, there is no legislation that says riders have to remove their helmets and masks unless it is the policy of the companies who either own petrol stations or shops at petrol stations.
“We are consulting with motorcycle interest groups and companies who either own petrol stations, or own shops at petrol stations, to get their views. We want to work with them to produce practical solutions that help us with investigations and identity suspects of crime.”
Get yourself sorted:
The only logical conclusion here is that bikers will be more vulnerable on the forecourt. We wouldn’t be surprised to see an increase of recently fuelled bikes being jacked for their fuel. If the request is implemented by petrol stations and you are fuelling in an area of London that has significant levels of motorcycle-related crime, you will need to be more vigilant.