The soaring price of diesel fuel has hurt the trucking industry in many ways, but the high costs are resulting in another new trend: diesel fuel theft.
According to the Arizona Republic, thieves are going after big tractor-trailer trucks that carry hundreds of gallons of valuable diesel fuel.Diesel averages $4.80 nationally, about 70 cents more per gallon than regular unleaded gasoline, according to AAA. That makes the 300 gallons of diesel fuel in some big rigs' tanks a lucrative target. Ten years ago, when diesel averaged $1.04 a gallon, many trucking companies considered fuel theft simply a nuisance. Then, 300 gallons of stolen fuel amounted to a loss of a little more than $300. Now, it’s more than $1,400.
Trucking companies say thieves sometimes use high-pressure pumps to drain the large tanks quickly while truckers sleep. Or they use an old-fashioned siphon hose. A driver may never hear a tank being drained, and the thieves aren’t around long, Williams said.In some cases, truckers themselves are stealing fuel.
Recent price spikes have sparked thefts around the country:
- In Pennsylvania, thieves siphoned diesel out of a gas station’s underground storage tanks using a pickup truck and a trailer with a trap door.
- In Texas, a thief stole more than 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel from two gas stations during a single day in March.
- In Ohio, a man was charged with felony theft of more than $600 in fuel. He was accused of pulling his truck alongside another big rig and stealing diesel as the trucker slept.--In Beaufort County, SC, an employee has been accused of stealing more than $35,000 in diesel fuel from county-owned pumps.
- In Foley, Ala, a farmer said his tractor was “topped off” with diesel on a Saturday at 5 p.m. On the following Monday morning, however, he discovered the amount of diesel in the tractor was down to 102 gallons, a loss of approximately 55 gallons.
- And in Delaware County, Ohio, crooks have stolen more than 500 gallons of diesel fuel from a Lewis Center gas station over the last few months.
- The companies aren’t saying publicly what steps they are taking to prevent further theft, but one company is considering buying locking gas caps.