The high price of gasoline is making it a very precious commodity. In the energy dependent world that we live in, it might could be a matter of time before Mad Max style marauders roam the highways in a "whirlwind of looting and a firestorm of fear, in which ‘men began to feed on men.'".
Okay, well may be that is a long time away but already, there are strong indications that as the value of gas increase so does its theft.
Gas and Drive
People are gassing and driving off without paying, although they run the risk of getting caught. Almost every gas station is equipped with cameras which record their license plate.
Thieves are switching the plates on their cars with stolen, fake or vanity plates before pulling into a gas station. They choose a time when the station is busy and there are multiple cars and people paying. Those intending to drive off with out paying usually fill out at the outer pumps. These pumps allow them easy access for a quick getaway.
Another gas and drive scam occurs when two or three drivers who know each other fill up at the same time. The first driver goes in to pay but gives the pump number of the second driver. Then both drivers leave. If the station is busy enough the attendant does not realize that only one person paid until it is too late.
Siphoning Your Gas
At $1.30 per liter a Honda CRV with its 58L tank holds $75 worth of gasoline. Given the choice between stealing the stereo and the gas in the vehicle, thieves are choosing to steal the gas. The stereo is harder to sell and can be tracked as stolen with its serial number. The gas can easily be sold and is untraceable.
Thieves in a van or truck park beside a car that has been left at an unattended parking lot. Using a flat screwdriver or a small crowbar the gas tank door is easily opened and a siphoning device into the gas tank to remove 45-60L of gasoline. While this occurs usually occurs at night, some thieves have been brazen enough to do this during the day at mall parking lots.
Siphon devices have become more sophisticated. They are no longer gravity fed hoses. Canadian Tire sell battery operated siphon pumps for $15. These devices are quiet and efficient.
Drilling Your Tank
SUVs and trucks with their large capacity gas tanks and higher elevation from the ground are targeted by thieves with electric drills. The thieves are drilling three to four small holes directly into the gas tank and placing a catch basin underneath your vehicle to steal your gas.
While this might be a risky activity, because drilling into the gas tank might cause an explosion, it is not as dangerous as you might think. 60% of vehicles have plastic gas tanks. Automobile manufactures use plastic gas tanks because they are lighter than steel tanks.
Victims of this type of gasoline theft have to deal with the loss the gas and the cost of replacing the damaged gas tank. The cost of replacing a metal tank on passenger vehicles is between $300 and $400, and the plastic tank common on newer vehicles would be at least $500.
Protect Your Vehicle
While the cost of the gasoline might be a small loss, the replacement of a broken gas tank door, or worse a fuel tank is an expensive prospect. Just like when a thief breaks your window to steal your stereo, the cost of replacing your window often out weights the cost of replacing your stereo. Filing an insurance claim could mean the insurance company might deem you a higher risk driver and your rates will increase.
Protect yourself and your vehicle by always parking your car in your garage when at home. If you have to park in a parking lot, park in a well lit area. If you park on the street, park with the gas tank facing the street. This will provide less cover for the thief. Purchase and install a car alarm. Buy a locking gas cap. Locking gas caps are cheap and very effective. Gasoline thieves will move to an easier target.