ONE YEAR ON: A Fuel Thief Identified And Revisited.

We’re coming up to the one year anniversary of our big ‘first case’ that put us on the map as investigators of note within the North East. So we thought we’d share the case study, revised and updated, for celebration’s sake:

Late February last year, we were engaged by a client to investigate one of their members of staff who they believed was stealing fuel from the company’s industrial pumps at the rear of their site.

The suspected member of staff was seen on the company’s CCTV cameras filling up jerry-cans at the pump (as was part of his responsibility) but the number of cans being loaded up into the company van at one part of the site did not match the number of cans being filled up at the other part of the site.

The client said that somewhere between the filling of the cans and the loading of them up into the company vehicle there was a discrepancy. Yet the staff member only had to walk out of sight of security cameras, along a fence line and into a van bay no more than thirty metres or so away. The client and his second-in-command had been out and walked the patch. They could not see where he could have gone or what he could have done with sometimes between 4 to 6 large cans.

We carried out a security overview of the company’s site and discovered a roughly dug spot in the ground near the corner of the building along the fence line and we went on to discover a hole dug and perfectly recovered where the staff member was squirrelling away the large cans out of sight by burying them in the hole before continuing on his route over to the van.

At the request of the client we put surveillance on the site, covering the blind spot area from a public point of view and covert cameras in place to assist. Eventually, in the dead of night, the staff member in question returned and matter-of-factly removed two fence panels from the blind side of the building, lifted up the ‘grass top’, removed the cans and then bizarrely took to pouring them into ANOTHER spot even further along the fence line. When he left the site that night we went over to the spot ourselves, investigated and found that there was a large industrial drum buried in the ground with a hose running to the surface. We took photos and replaced everything as was.

Further surveillance over a series of nights eventually led to the staff member in question returning in a large Ford Transit 350. He removed four panels from the fence line, stepped on to the company premises and set about taking the drum from the ground using pulleys and placing it in the back of the van. He then replaced all of the grass carefully, placed the fence panels back and drove off. The staff member was covertly tracked to farm grounds where he was filmed in the early hours of the morning unloading the drum and receiving a sum of money in return from two awaiting farm-workers. He then left and was further covertly tracked returning to his own home address.

The footage acquired was presented to our client the very next morning. They immediately suspended the member of staff and notified the police. An arrest was subsequently made and the member of staff was later terminated for gross misconduct from our client’s organisation.

It was later discovered that the member of staff had been paid £500 per drum and admitted he had been carrying out his fuel theft in this manner for a few years without the company ever seeming to notice.

The client contacted us several months later and said that they had been “informally approached” to see if they were interested in dropping charges against the staff member in return for him revealing which staff members at other sites belonging to the client were doing the same thing but with different storage methods, where their supplies were located and who they were selling to.

We went on to work with the client in an undercover capacity in order to secure further evidence from their Cumbria and Northumberland sites of fuel theft and gross misconduct which later led to several arrests.