Fuel theft : how to plug the leak on African territories
Fuel theft : how to plug the leak on African territories

Fuel theft : how to plug the leak on African territories

Fuel theft is one of the major issues in fleet management in Africa. However, few fleet managers realize the impact of fuel theft on their management costs, and many underestimate the extent of the problem. Criminals proceed by siphoning off vehicle fuel tanks using various techniques. 

The magnitude of this phenomenon is accentuated by the ease with which these thefts can be carried out. Basic solutions, such as protecting the fuel filler flap, are unfortunately insufficient. Thieves quickly puncture the tank (causing damage and additional costs). 

Noticing the thefts is not enough. You need to take concrete steps to prevent them from happening again. Let’s look at what can be done to reduce the risk of theft.

Defensive parking 

Defensive parking is a concept that encompasses all practices aimed at protecting your vehicle by parking. In our case, this includes practices that make it more difficult for thieves to access the gas tank. With that goal in mind, you can imagine parking along a fence on the side of the fuel door. The idea here is that parking should add a level of difficulty to any theft attempt. If the thief has to choose between a vehicle that is easy to access and one which is less accessible, you can guess what decision he will make.

Use cameras and protect your parking areas

If you have parking areas of your own, it is best to protect them. For example, you can put up a fence on the edge of your parking space, which will make it more difficult for thieves to enter the parking lot. You can also intimidate thieves by lighting the parking area. If what happens in your parking lot is visible from the road, criminals will think twice before breaking in. Finally, if you have the means, you can also hire a security guard or set up a network of cameras. It will allow you to keep an eye on and identify the thieves if they still manage to attack one of your vehicles.

The use of security cameras can help you prevent fuel theft
The use of security cameras can help you prevent fuel theft

Invest in fuel monitoring devices 

The advantage of choosing a fleet management solution like Fleeti’s is that it allows you to detect theft in real time. Indeed, our sensors are programmed to inform you in real time of any sudden or unusual drop in the quantity of fuel in the equipped tank. This allows you to act in real time; to identify the location of the theft; to learn more about the potential habits of thieves. The fuel levels are continuously updated, so you can constantly monitor the level of fuel in your tanks. Having this real-time monitoring will allow you to better evaluate the real impact of these thefts on your business, and prevent them.

Raise awareness among your drivers 

Drivers our a powerful help against fuel theft

Sometimes overlooked, your drivers are one of the best ways to reduce fuel theft at your facility. It is important to inform them of the risks of theft. Not only because theft puts the company at risk, but also because it sometimes put their own safety at risk. Indeed, some thefts take place during the day, when the vehicle is stopped for a delivery or a break for example. These criminal actions can have dramatic consequences for the drivers. It is important to point out that fuel sensors are there to help them in this prevention.

Educating them on good practices can also help you reduce the number of thefts: when they stop, encourage them to be aware of the environment around them. Don’t leave the vehicle unattended for too long, practice defensive parking… These are some things that are easy to put in place and that can protect you.


Beware, however, that a determined thief will always be able to take fuel from you. Here we see practices that can reduce this propensity to steal, but don’t put yourself at risk. Protect yourself before you protect the fuel.

These 4 points are first tips that can help you to put a stop to the increase of these thefts. If investing in a fleet management software to monitor your fuel may seem excessive, it is important to note that in most cases, it allows you to strongly decrease this propensity to theft. The monitoring is done live; you are able to see where the theft took place, at what time and in what context. This allows you for example to notice and report “danger zones”, areas where thefts are recurrent and that it is therefore interesting to avoid.

If you want to know more about the subject and fleet management, feel free to fill in the form below. I also recommend this other article we wrote, about driving scores and how they can be really helpful in limiting your costs.