You might want to invest in a locking gas cap
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.
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?
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!