Don't Fill Up Your Gas Tank Without Doing This First, Police Now Warn
The rising cost of gas is leading to an increase in gas theft.
You'll want to double-check your account balance if you're planning to stop by the gas station any time soon. Gas prices have skyrocketed in the U.S. due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions that have been levied against the oil-producing country as a result. According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average just hit a record high on March 11 of $4.331 per gallon for regular, unleaded gas. The previous peak was recorded in 2008 amid the looming recession. But increased costs might not be all that you need to worry about the next time you stop for a refuel. Read on to find out what police departments across the U.S. are now warning car owners to do before filling up their tanks.
Officials say that rising gas prices are causing gas theft to increase.
Now that the price of gas has risen so dramatically, U.S. police departments are warning that a heightened risk of gas theft is likely to follow. "The cost of gas going up and up almost daily … triggers those who don't want to pay to have an incentive to steal your hard-earned gas," the Hoquiam Police Department in Washington state wrote in a March 8 Facebook post. "We often discover these thefts later when the owner goes to the gas station to fill up and finds all the fuel dumping out under the vehicle from the cut filler line."
Some officials say they're already seeing this. "With the sharp and fast rise of price at the gas pumps, we are seeing an increase in gas theft," the Everett Police Department in Washington state confirmed in a March 8 Facebook post. On March 3, the Atlanta Police Department (APD) also released a report about a suspect who had been arrested and charged for gas theft. The report said the suspect had been "damaging cars by puncturing gas tanks and stealing gasoline."
Police are warning car owners to take preventive measures before filling up their gas tanks.
On March 10, the Renton Police Department in Washington posted on Facebook, warning car owners to not fill up their gas tanks before switching out their gas cap for one that can lock. "Invest in a quality locking gas cap (even if your fuel door locks) to help make it inconvenient for a thief to steal your liquid gold," the department wrote.
A quick Google search shows a number of locking fuel caps for sale online from retailers such as Amazon, Walmart, and AutoZone. But it is important to remember that the quality of this product is important as well. "Some cheaper versions can be defeated by an aggressive twist or drilled through so it can then be removed. So choose wisely," the Renton Police Department added.
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There are also other safety tips you can utilize against gas theft.
Buying a locking gas cap is just one of the ways you can keep thieves away from your tank. The Renton Police Department also recommended a number of other safety measures, including guidance on how and where you should be parking your car. According to the department, you should only park your vehicle in well-lit, well-traveled locations or in your garage whenever possible. If you have to park in public places, officials advise against doing so for an extended period of time. They also suggest that you position your car in such a way that your fuel tank door can be seen from a main road.
"We understand a motivated thief may not be deterred from stealing, no matter how hard we try to protect our items of value," the Renton Police Department said in its post. "But the goal is to introduce deterrents that will make them uncomfortable, or present inconveniences that will encourage them to leave the area."
Your car may be unsafe to drive if you've had your gas stolen.
The Everett Police Department says gas thieves could try to take your gas in various ways. According to the department, some use rubber hoses to draw fuel out of your car. But there have been increasing cases of "modern day thieves" using power tools to drill a hole in gas tanks to steal. In the APD case, the arrested suspect "appeared to have used a tool to drill a hole into the gas tanks of the victims' vehicles resulting in hundreds or thousands of dollars of extra costs to the victim for gas tank repairs," per the department.
And depending on how your fuel was stolen, you might want to avoid driving. "If you are a victim of gas theft, it can be unsafe to drive with a damaged gas tank. Call 911 to report the damage to your vehicle and the theft of gasoline," Everett police officers advised.