Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Liquid Gold

The Mad Max movies are starting to look more like documentaries these days.
Most gas thefts are still perpetrated by motorists who drive off without paying. After seeing declines in drive-offs earlier this decade, after many stores began requiring drivers to pre-pay, the National Association of Convenience Stores says they’re rising sharply again.

Convenience stores sell more than 80 percent of the fuel U.S. motorists put in their vehicles, and stores in high-traffic areas along Interstate highways are often hit several times a day, the association said. The average store will lose more than $1,000 in stolen fuel this year, it said — and more than double that at stores that don’t require pre-payment.
OK, how do gas stations have fuel stolen if customers are required to pre-pay? I don’t get that. Also, I’m not sure why the gas stores in Springfield don’t all require pre-payment since it only takes something like one drive off a day make selling gas nothing but a loss leader for their convenience store items. I was told recently by a cashier at my friendly neighborhood gas station that the city doesn’t allow for pre-pay only gas stations. I have no idea if that’s true but I think you should have to either pre-pay or use a credit/debit card. I know it’s hard if you don’t have plastic to estimate how much you’re going to need but I assume you can always go back into the store for a refund if you over pay.

Then there’s the increased risk of having your gas stolen from your vehicle:
But with the average price of a gallon of gas having more than doubled in the last two years, thieves are branching out. Across the country, drivers are waking up to find their gas caps pried open and their tanks dry.

While there are no national statistics yet tracking an increase in gas thefts, police across the country say they’re investigating more reports than ever before:

Using an empty gas can and a siphon, thieves were able to suck 30 gallons of diesel from a bus in a Bethesda, Md., parking lot.

In Beaver Dam, Wis., “they’re just going to cars at night and siphoning gas out of them,” said Stephanie Lehmann, who said several cars in her neighborhood had been hit.

Police in Evansville, Ind., said thieves drained all of the fuel this month from seven trucks belonging to a local office of JBM Inc., a metal fabrication chain. They put the loss at $700.

And police in Denver are investigating a rash of incidents in which thieves drill small holes into gas tanks and siphon off the fuel. “This is clearly not the way it’s been done in the past, by taking a hose and putting it in a gas tank,” police Detective John White said.
That last one is what I was thinking might start happening soon. I was (am) contemplating getting a locking gas cap but realized that might only be inviting even more damage. Still it seems like a good precaution for now. Anyone else taking measures to guard your gas?

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