HGV drivers are very rarely the victims of crime while on the road, there’s just too much moving around. But on one of the few occasions that they are targeted, it is often for the crime of petrol theft. The fuel in an HGV is sometimes as financially valuable the HGV’s actual cargo, and it’s almost always easier to access, especially as HGV’s can be left unattended during rest stops. Stopping in unsecured spots overnight, or leaving the vehicle for a break has always carried the small risk that a fuel thief could find their way into the fuel tank and syphon off their fuel, leaving the drivers to clear up and manage the issue.
Why Steal Petrol?
Quite simply, because it is very valuable. Despite the rise or fall in oil prices, fuel prices have remained consistently high, ad this means being able to resell on the black market in bulk can be a lucrative operation. Because HGVs use specialist fuel, syphoning fuel from them means thieves can demand a higher price for it. But syphoning fuel is dangerous, not only for the thief but for the driver of the vehicle. If they don’t notice the theft has occurred right away, they could damage their vehicles or even cause fire and explosion.
How Is It Done?
The most typical method of syphoning fuel is to feed a long tube from the fuel tank cap into the fuel tank itself. The thief will then hold the tube up and suck on their end of the tube until the fuel starts to flow out. Spitting out a mouthful of fuel, they will point the end down into their container and allow physics to do the work for them. When they are finished, they will simply lift the tube back up to stop the flow and replace the cap. Depending on how much they are looking to steal, this process can take between 3 and 15 minutes.
How Can I Prevent It?
With fuel theft becoming more and more common, it is not surprising that a number of anti-theft solutions have been devised over the years. These usually take the form of alarms, but one new and very promising solution has already been snapped up by Co-Op. Earlier in the year, the giant group took steps to protect its fleet of HGV’s by installing a new device that blocks all access to the vehicles’ fuel. The device is called the ‘impregnable-HF’, and it works by locking off the fuel as soon as it reaches the top of the tank using a floating lock valve, which rests on the surface of the fuel. With the device acting as a barrier between the opening of the tank and the fuel inside it, skimming or syphoning the fuel is physically impossible. And as a bonus, it not only stops fuel theft, but it prevents accidental spillage and overfilling, saving money for the company as well.
You can also consider:
– Installing fences, lighting and security cameras in vehicle or fuelling yards. Because of their high density of vehicles, this type of place is a goldmine for the fuel thief, so make it difficult if not impossible for them to get in and out without being noticed. This measure acts as an effective deterrent and means you always have a secure place to leave your fleet.
– Park defensively when you are on the road. When leaving your vehicle even if it’s just to pop to the loo, make sure you have parked in a way that restricts access to the fuel tank. You can do this by parking close to walls or trees, making sure you aren’t inconveniencing other drivers.
– Never leave your HGV unattended in unsecured areas, especially overnight. Make sure you are able to lock your vehicle away behind a gate or in a monitored car park. Never leave your vehicle in a lay-by on the side of the road unattended – it is easy pickings for a fuel thief.
While on the road, HGV drivers thoughts are completely consumed by ensuring that they and everyone else on the road are safe. But because driving for long periods is so mentally draining, HGV drivers often forget safety procedures when they stop for rest breaks. By making these small changes, you may be able to save yourself a lot of money and stress, as well as protecting yourself against theft. For more information about protecting your HGV from fuel theft, get in touch with our team today.
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