How To Protect Yourself From Gasoline Thieves
Attention drivers! Fasten your seat belts and prepare yourselves for a wild and crazy journey back to the madness of the seventies. But you’d better remember to hold onto your hats. Or in this case, your gas caps.
In a situation redolent of oil embargoes and gas rationing, fuel prices in this country continue their dizzying ascent into the stratosphere. As a consequence, there has been an alarming increase not only the rising number of gasoline thefts, but in the extreme lengths that some of perps are willing to go to in order to steal the precious petrol.
Most of the thefts still involve people driving off before they pay, with convenience stores that sell gas along busy interstate highways being the primary targets. In fact, with these stores providing as much as 80% of the gas to consumers, they are, on average, expected to lose as much as $1000 of gas this year, according to the National Association of Convenience Stores.
What really has law enforcement officials concerned, however, is that in addition to drive-off thefts, some bandits are targeting consumers, using more brazen methods that move well beyond the standard siphon to include pumps, saws, drills, and even guns. Apparently SUVs and large pickup trucks are the car of choice because they have larger gas tanks (and are thus more profitable) and provide easier access to them due to their higher suspensions.
Difficult as it may be to imagine, what the thieves end up doing is literally drilling a hole in the tank and letting the gas drain out, which they will later sell on the black market. Now besides the obvious hazard of a having gas leaking out the bottom of you car, the cost of replacing your tank can run as high as $500.
As gas creeps up well beyond the $4.00 benchmark, the situation might very well get worse. So with this in mind, here are a few things that you can do to protect yourself, or at the very least, minimize your risk:
1. If possible, park in a secure, locked garage, especially when parking overnight
2. Position your car under a streetlight to increase visibility.
3. Park in high traffic areas where your car is in plain sight.
4. Don’t park in public lots for a long period of time and, if need be, move your car frequently.
5. Keep the access door to your gas cap in full view whenever possible. Don’t let it be obscured by a wall or shrub.
6. Buy a locking gas cap. If you don’t already have one, a ten dollar investment can save you a lot of headache.
7. Report any suspicious behavior, especially around your car.
In the end, like most things in life, the responsibility lies with you to practice a little common sense and make it harder for thieves to get to your gas. This, in turn, will save you time, hassles, and of course, money.
One other solution would be to simply get a smaller car. Besides the obvious savings and convenience, they have smaller gas tanks making them less attractive to thieves. Small cars are also much lower to the ground, so accessing the gas tank is that much more difficult, if not impossible.
Unless, of course, they’ve brought along a jack.
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