You might want to invest in a locking gas cap

By glblguy

Filler up
Photo by: striatic

Don’t have a locking gas cap? You just might want to consider getting one. As gas prices are rising, so are the number of reported thefts of gas from people’s cars. Armed with siphon hoses, drills and even weapons, gas thieves are on the hunt for your gas.

MSNBC recently ran a story that told a story about a tanker driver named Bobby Lee Julien whose gas tanker was stolen at gun point. While the tanker was finally recovered, authorities believe the gas in the tanker was destined for the black market.

Drive offs

According to the MSNBC article, the most common way to steal gas is still drive offs at the local convenience store. According to the National Association of Convenience Stores, the average convenience store will lose more than $1000.00 dollars to drive offs this year. Given the profit margins for store owners on gasoline are so low, stores would need to sell 3,000 gallons of gas to offset a single $60.00 drive-off. Stores in high traffic areas often get several drive offs per day.

In order to avoid such losses, most convenience stores are implementing a pay before you pump policy, stores that don’t can expect to loose more than $2000.00 in drive offs this year.

Stealing gas right from your car

People have been stealing gas from cars and vehicles for years, but until recently it was a fairly rare occurrence. Armed with a gas can and a simple siphon hose, stealing gas isn’t difficult. This of course being true only for vehicles that don’t have locking gas caps or gas covers. Most modern vehicles have a ball valve that serves provides this protection.

As gas prices have gone up, so are the number of occurrences of people getting in their cars to go somewhere only to find their gas tanks empty or even worse their gas tanks empty plus either their locking cover or cap pried off or a hole in their gas tank! Yes, you read that correctly, gas thieves are even arming themselves with drills and drilling holes in gas tanks to steal gas. While incredibly dangerous, this technique is on the rise due to the anti-siphoning devices and many people purchasing locking gas caps.

Thieves are also cutting right into the gas line itself when reachable. A number of police reports have reported thieves cutting the gas lines from the tank to the engine and taking the gas that way. This is another incredibly dangerous technique, but one that is growing in popularity.

Selling and stealing gas straight from the pump

In Baltimore Maryland, convenience store owners discovered their pumps had been rigged by thieves with special master keys. Store owners noticed long lines at particular pumps that didn’t seem to be pumping any gas. One store owner inspected one of his pumps thinking it had a leak, only to find it rigged with a master key.  The key enables the thieves to turn the pump on and off at will. The key system disables the pump from the stores systems and allow the thief to sell gas from the pump, to the tune of $20 – $40 per tank. Police say this is rare situation, and most likely a group of professional thieves but still demonstrates the lengths thieves will go to with gas prices soaring like they are.

What can you do?

Locking Gas Cap

Authorities suggest taking these precautions to avoid having your gas being stolen:

  • Park in a locked garage.
  • Park in well lite and traveled areas.
  • Park your car in an attended lot.
  • Avoid parking in public lots for long periods of time.
  • Avoid parking where your fuel door would be obscured by heavy landscaping, isolated corners or high walls.
  • Purchase a locking gas cap. $10 is a minimal investment to avoid the risk of have $50 or more of your gas stolen.

I keep my cars parked in our driveway (our garage is full of kid toys). We recently installed two motion sensing lights to discourage people getting near our vehicles. Both of our vehicles are also equipped with locking gas doors, but I’ve been considering getting the locking gas caps too just to add an extra measure of protection.

What steps are you taking to avoid gas theft? Any unusual stories about gas theft from your neck of the woods? Add a comment!

10 Responses (including trackbacks) to “You might want to invest in a locking gas cap”

  1. Vanessa Says:

    I have heard about the risks of gas being stolen out of our cars. Our cars like yours, are parked in our drive way. Luckily, our Subaru has a gas door that has to opened from inside the car. We do have locking gas caps on both of cars however. Thankfully.

  2. Stacia Says:

    Just wanted to add to your article that thieves are also stealing license plates and using the stolen plates on their cars when they fill up. Then when they drive off, guess who the police contact?

    Who checks their own vehicle every day to see if your plates are still there? Time to start!

  3. Lynnae Says:

    Oh good grief! Stealing plates, too?

    We need to get a locking gas cap, at least for the van. Our locking gas door is having some issues, and doesn’t always lock correctly. We need to get that fixed, but a locking gas cap would help protect us until then.

    We don’t have a garage, so we park in the carport. I leave the outside (energy saving) light on all night to discourage any mischief.

  4. Kristen Says:

    Parking your car in a locked or well-lit area is important to prevent other thefts, too. In our area in western Pa. we’ve seen thefts of catalytic converters from cars. Apparently there is a big payday at the scrap yard for the metal found in the converters.

    We’ve also had some instances of the gas thieves stealing license plates to use when they steal gas, so the police unknowingly go looking for a victim instead of the criminal.

  5. Pete Says:

    I think i’d be more concerned about the license plate thefts as you could get in some real trouble with that.

    I carpool to work every day, and when i’m not driving I leave my car in the park and ride lot. That would be a great place for those thieves to steal some license plates and/or gas.

    Scary stuff.

  6. Catherine Says:

    I’ve been warned about NOT getting a gas locking cap. If theives want the gas and come across a gas locking cap, they will resort to drilling a hole in the tank and getting the gas that way.

    Replacing your tank is way more expensive than losing some gas.

  7. Natural Says:

    i couldn’t believe when i saw on the news that someone drilled a hole in a gas tank. it has gotten that bad. i think the gas in my car is worth more than the car itself, i see why.

  8. "Mo" Money Says:

    Is a locking gas cap the answer? It sounds to me that if the thief prys off the locking cap, he would cause more damage that just stealing your gas.

  9. Shiri Says:

    It’s a shame what lengths some people will go to.

    I am glad I gave up my car. I could no longer afford it. It is also a piece of junk, literally. If someone stole the gas out of it, at least they’d be getting use out of the gas, because I haven’t driven it in almost three months. I will probably sell it for junk.

  10. twink Says:

    o the police unknowingly go looking for a victim instead of the criminal.