Preventing Fuel Theft with License Plate Recognition

Just recently, a man had been arrested for his involvement in a fuel theft incident that occurred in November of last year. Him and three other suspects “were caught on video surveillance stealing 1,900 gallons of diesel”, totaling $7,200. The investigation also revealed that the same group of suspects were involved in similar fuel thefts from other convenience stores across various cities in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.

Fuel theft incidents tend to spike during periods of rising gas prices. With conflict in the Middle East driving up the price of oil, gas prices are expected to increase, leading to a potential surge in fuel theft. A single instance of gas theft could result in significant financial losses for a gas station since they typically operate on slim profit margins for fuel sales. Ultimately, the consequences will get passed onto the consumer as gas station owners may need to increase their fuel prices to compensate for losses. To combat this issue, gas stations can use license plate recognition (LPR) as a deterrent and solution for fuel theft incidents.

Fuel Theft Methods

Fuel theft can occur through various methods. Some individuals use electronic devices to manipulate fuel pumps, causing the meter to slow down while the fuel dispenses at a normal rate. This tactic allows them to pump a substantial amount of fuel for a much lower price, as the pump incorrectly indicates a minimal amount is being dispensed. Other criminals tamper with the fuel dispensing system, changing the price per gallon or bypassing payment entirely. By doing this, multiple cars can pull up to the same pump and fill up their gas tanks.

Some thieves siphon gasoline from the gas station’s underground storage tanks. They position a truck with a hole drilled at the bottom directly over the tank, open the tank lid, and pump the gasoline into a large tank inside the truck. This method is quite dangerous because there is no vapor recovery system to capture the highly flammable gasoline vapors that are released into the atmosphere. Any small spark during this process has the potential to ignite a fire or explosion.

Uses of License Plate Recognition (LPR)

License plate recognition (LPR) technology involves capturing and analyzing license plate information. Gas stations can use specialized LPR cameras or integrate their existing cameras with cloud-based LPR software, such as PLACA.AI. With this integration, gas stations can efficiently monitor incoming and outgoing vehicles, enhancing their surveillance capabilities and mitigating fuel theft incidents.

Identify Suspicious Activity

LPR systems allow gas stations to maintain a database of every vehicle that has been through the premises. Using this information, owners can identify suspicious patterns or activities, such as a single vehicle making frequent visits within a short period of time. In one fuel theft case, gas station employees grew suspicious of a vehicle due to its multiple purchases. They alerted the police who monitored the vehicle’s movements as it targeted other gas stations in neighboring counties, eventually apprehending the perpetrators. Using LPR makes it easier to identify such activity, as the system records each time a vehicle is detected.

Detect Vehicles of Interest

Gas stations can strengthen their security by configuring their LPR systems to generate alerts when specific vehicles of interest are detected on the premises. If a gas station notices the same vehicle making multiple visits within hours, they can flag the vehicle in their system. The system will then notify personnel the next time the flagged vehicle enters the premises so they can contact the authorities or take other action. Additionally, gas stations can input information about suspected vehicles involved in reported fuel thefts into the system. The system will alert them if the suspected vehicle is ever detected, helping law enforcement in tracking down the thieves.

Protection from Gas Theft with PLACA.AI

As long as gas-powered vehicles exist, fuel theft will always be an issue for both gas station owners and customers. Fortunately, gas stations can use a powerful tool to minimize these thefts – license plate recognition (LPR) technology. You can leverage this technology today with PLACA.AI, our cloud-based LPR software. This advanced solution captures license plates, records vehicle data, and generates security alerts. PLACA.AI works with any IP camera so you can integrate the software into your existing CCTV system without having to buy specific LPR cameras.

Subscribe to PLACA.AI today and enhance the security of your gas station with ease. To get a free trial of PLACA.AI, contact the 2M Technology sales team at +1 (866) 708-5401 or at You can also click the link below to register for a free live demo of the platform and learn more information.

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