As the summer gets closer and gas prices begin their annual ascent for the season, something else is also on the rise: fuel thefts. While fuel thefts were less of an issue in years past when gasoline prices were $1 to $2 a gallon, with prices reaching $4 a gallon and above in many places, thefts are becoming more common. In South Florida, for example, Victory Petroleum, which runs about 200 stores, sees a theft from one of its stores about once a week, with thieves stealing up to 600 gallons of fuel at a time. At one station, thieves struck twice on the same day, stealing 1,000 gallons of diesel worth about $4,000.
Not only do fuel thefts cost gas stations money, but they also put the general public in danger. These vehicles release large quantities of gas vapors into the air as they siphon the fuel out from underground storage tanks, and leave a trail of this vapor behind them as they drive away. These vapors are highly flammable and could cause fires or even explosions.
To prevent fuel thefts, some gas stations are taking extra precautions. One petroleum company in south Florida has installed heavy-duty locks on underground storage tanks to deter thieves. Many times thieves send in someone to distract the attendant while the team siphons gas. If a customer appears to be distracting the attendant, this may be a sign that fuel theft is occurring.