With gas prices rising, thieves are stealing gas.
And it’s more than the traditional theft by siphoning from your gas tank. Gas caps locked from inside the car — which came about during previous gas price hikes — help prevent that.
But still, your gas isn’t safe in your tank. Thieves are getting under cars, drilling holes in gas tanks and draining the fuel.
And there’s been theft directly from underground tanks at gas stations, too.
Average national gas prices Monday were at $4.325 per gallon, according to AAA, with California again at the top with an average price of $5.744 per gallon.
The national average a year ago was $2.859.
Bold thefts occurred over three days at a gas station in Houston, according to ABC News. A vehicle parked over the access plates used by fuel trucks to fill underground tanks. “The van drives on the top of the fuel tank,” said Jerry Thayil, station manager.
“And then, that’s all you see. No one comes out. So they have a trap door inside their vehicle, which is crazy.” Through the trap door the thieves took 360 gallons each day but were thwarted when they came back for more on the fourth day.
Stacy Houston, who runs a Las Vegas company specializing in cleanup after homicides and suicides, came out to her fleet of five vehicles one morning to discover each pickup truck drained of diesel fuel, according to KLAS-TV.
“And they’re huge,” Houston said, “One of them is a 14-foot box truck, so that’s like $200 worth of gas.”
The thieves took Houston’s fuel by simply running a hose from the gas cap down to the tank. Long fuel pipes down to the tank on larger vehicles make that relatively easy to do, according to Victor Batnari of Universal Motor Cars of Las Vegas.
The real problem comes if thieves drill into the fuel tank, some of which can cost 2 or 3 thousand dollars to replace, Batnari said. For Houston, at least, there was no damage to her trucks.
Tips for protecting the precious load in your gas tank came from the Renton Police Department in Washington.
They say get a locking gas cap, even if your external gas access flap locks from inside the car. But it need to be a good gas cap. “Some cheaper versions can be defeated by an aggressive twist or drilled through so it can then be removed. So choose wisely,” Renton police said in a Facebook post.
Try to garage your car as much as you can; otherwise, park in a well-lit area and don’t leave your car for extended periods of time in public places like at an airport parking lot.
At a car pool lot, park your car on the outside of the perimeter with the gas cap visible from the road.
Carpool more to spread the risk, and if you see suspicious behavior like gas siphoning, call 911, the post continued.
If you store large amounts of fuel for business or personal uses, do what you can to secure it, including changing housing of the fuel to a more reinforced structure.
“We understand a motivated thief may not be deterred from stealing, no matter how hard we try to protect our items of value,” Renton police said. “But the goal is to introduce deterrents that will make them uncomfortable, or present inconveniences that will encourage them to leave the area.
“Carry on smartly,” the post concluded.