Reducing fuel theft

By DRVR supporter Dmitry Naymushin

Petrol, Diesel, Black Gold. Call it what you will. The world is driven by the combustion engine. People like Henry Ford changed the world from being reliant upon animal power to reliant upon oil. Wars have been fought over it.

DRVR has some awesome staff members and we also get a lot of awesome people applying to work with us. One of the things we do when we interview a potential team member is we ask them to complete a small task showing what they can do. Dmitry applied for a job with us a device specialist. This is the paper which he crafted. I asked him to consider the problem of fuel theft and how we should solve this.

We’ve spit out his article into two posts. Today we talk about the core problem and how it happens.

Fuel Theft is a serious Problem across the world

I. Subject area

This paper describes the solution of the problem of fuel theft performed in different ways and forms. This problem is severe and concerns carrying out transportation of people, cargo, construction and agricultural work using vehicles equipped with internal combustion engines (petrol, diesel, gas, alcohol, combined and others).

A transport company (TC) is an enterprise that wants to reduce fuel theft and consumption. Such companies are potential customers of DRVR.

To facilitate understanding of the system operation, we assume that the following (external to the developed system) systems and employees are independent each to other, perform their functions reliably and do not lend themselves to external influence (blackmail, threats, bribery, deception, collusion, technical failure) which is undesirable for the correct functioning of the developed system:

  • GPS satellites;
  • electronic system of the bank and employees of the bank;
  • TC staff responsible for measuring fuel consumption rates;
  • TC money accountants;
  • TC route dispatchers.

II. Ways and means of fuel theft

  1. Siphoning of fuel from the tank

The easiest, common type of theft is draining fuel directly from the tank of the car. As a rule, at TCs the fuel consumption rate is overstated, so the driver gets its surplus.

After declaring that all fuel is wasted, he drains saved surplus with a hose into his can and then either sells at a reduced price or fuels a personal vehicle with it.

Siphoning Fuel the old Fashioned Way

2. Acquisition of fake cash receipts

This kind of theft is also one of the most popular at the moment. In this case, the driver does not even have to drain anything, he immediately receives the desired — money.

Issued accountable funds for the purchase of fuel the driver spends on the purchase of cheap illegal fuel, and at the gas station only buys checks for bookkeeping. After the trip, he declares fuel consumption at increased rates, explaining it with traffic jams, bad quality of road surface, weight overload, strong headwind, car malfunctions, etc. reasons. Saved in this way, the difference in the form of money goes to the driver’s pocket.

3. Fake increase of the amount of trips and usage of vehicle for personal purposes

Carrying out scheduled trips between, for example, a quarry and the object of construction, a driver can assign 1 to 2 trips on each shift, which he did not actually commit. Or during working hours he can use the vehicle for personal purposes.

For example:

  • bring a car with sand to the country site for a cash reward;
  • returning from the trip take undeclared cargo, performing extra 300 km;
  • in case of a taxi car take a few extra trips per shift.

4. Fake increment of odometer

To declare waste of a larger amount of fuel, the driver often increments a mileage on the odometer on a dashboard. Then he buys fake cash receipts or just drains a surplus of a fuel. In addition to a direct loss, the employer indirectly loses large sums of money for the next scheduled maintenance that normally should be performed several months later.

5. Sale of fuel coupons

Many TCs still use fuel coupons. The holder of such coupon at the gas station is simply poured into the tank indicated in the coupon amount of liters of fuel. Such coupons can be easily sold at a reduced price, and the fuel can be declared as wasted.

6. Fraud with participation of the operator of gas station

Many TCs now have already refused to use fuel coupons or issuing cash funds to the driver to buy fuel. There are much more convenient fuel cards, that the company lists funds that can be spent only on fuel to. But even here the drivers found a certain approach. After agreeing with the operator of the gas station, the driver pours into the tank, say 100 liters of fuel, and the card withdraws money for 250 liters. The difference in the price of fuel minus the interest of the operator of the gas station is transferred to the driver.

7. Buying cheap illegal fuel in cans on the road, and not at the gas station

Often on the roads you can find a truck parked on the roadside, filled to the top with plastic cans with diesel fuel, or an old petrol tanker or some other large container. These are illegal second-hand dealers. Here you can cheaply buy and sell diesel fuel. Drivers can either sell diesel from their car and get money for it, or buy cheaper than at a gas station and thereby save money on fuel.

As a result of this “saving” the employer often has to repair the fuel system of the car. And overhaul costs tens and hundreds of times more than all the money that the driver “saved” for himself.

8. Collusion with the refueller at the TC gas station

This kind of fraud looks like fraud in point 6. But in this case it is filling the vehicle tank from a gasoline tank truck below requested volume. As a rule, this happens in closed facilities: quarry, construction site. At such sites, drivers are not given either cash, fuel cards, fuel coupons — there is a petrol tanker and a fuel list, in which the driver and the tanker are signed. Such collusions are of a permanent nature, the volumes of theft are quite large here.

9. Careless driving style

One of the main factors directly or indirectly affecting fuel consumption is the style and manner of driving. On the same vehicle, an experienced driver spends, for example, 26 liters per 100 km, and a young driver who has little experience — 30 liters per 100 km. The difference in fuel consumption can reach up to 20–30%.

10. Fictitious work

In case of tractor, combiner and other types of special vehicle driver starts the engine and leaves it to work all shift at idle. Then, the driver declares waste of the fuel at the rate according to the allegedly worked engine hours. As a result, the work is not performed, and the fuel is wasted. The company loses money for purposeless waste of the fuel, and incurs losses due to lost profits from uncompleted work.

11. Draining fuel through a fuel return system

In diesel engines there is a so-called fuel return system, where the unused fuel returns from the engine to the tank. Some drivers, even knowing that they have a monitoring system and fuel level sensors, embed pipe tee into the fuel return system and slowly pour fuel into the canisters from this system, creating the appearance that it is just such a large fuel consumption rate for this car.

Battle Fuel Theft with DRVR

Stay tuned for part 2. Coming soon.

DRVR — Smarter Driving

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DRVR is Connecting the vehicle fleets of Asia. We are the leading IoT start-up in South East Asia.

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