Despite the current exceptional aid from the government (-18 cents including tax per liter of petrol), fuel prices are not falling. In most of the service stations in the territory, the price per liter of unleaded and diesel exceeds 2 euros. It is in this unprecedented context that a phenomenon resurfaces: that of fuel theft. A malicious practice that can take various forms, this act of fraud is not without consequences for the cars concerned. Decryption.
Fuel theft, how is this possible?
“Black gold” has never lived up to its name so well. The magazine Auto More reports that these are more than 6 million liters of fuel which are stolen each year in France. Faced with this unfortunate observation, a question arises: how do thieves go about committing their theft?
Unfortunately, there isn’t just one way to siphon off (read: steal) fuel from a vehicle. Between the tank truck carjackingthe complicity of certain delivery drivers of fuel or even the “classic” tank override many city cars, the theft of petrol or diesel has never been so topical. The current context of soaring fuel prices also explains the resurgence of these malicious acts.
Rising fuel prices: what has changed for you?
Read the article
In the majority of cases, the reservoir is forced by the malefactors using a drill, when the latter find that the filler neck is relatively well protected by a lock and a cover. But sometimes, this chute is exposed to the eyes of all, without cover, barely sheltered by a plastic cover, which can easily be damaged.
If the drill is used, the thieves form a more or less gaping hole. Some even go so far as to puncture the tank several times, in different places in order to circulate more air in the tank and siphon the gasoline more quickly.
How to protect against fuel theft?
Despite the proliferation of these acts, there are some good practices to observe to avoid experiencing this misadventure. If the owners cannot fully protect themselves from fuel theft, they can arrange to complicate the task to thieves and dissuade them from acting.
Park your car indoors
Park your vehicle indoors as much as possible if you have a designated parking space. Otherwise, for obvious reasons, favor parking in places that are covered or considered “safe” if you had to park your vehicle outside. The residential or suburban areas, lit and filmed by a surveillance camera will be preferred to avoid a bad surprise in your absence.
Park your vehicleas far as possible, along a wall, tank side, remembering to apply the handbrake more than usual. This will make access to your reservoir much more difficult for anyone wishing to break into it. Moreover, why not show as much aplomb as the thug by indicating to him, using a message slipped into the passenger compartment, under the windshield wipers, that the tank is empty or almost?
Prioritize newer vehicles
Newer vehicle models have a enhanced protection against fuel siphoning. Thus, their reservoir has a central hatch locking system to make any theft almost impossible, but that’s not all: the compartmentalization and the complex shape of the tank of these vehicles make the task more difficult. It is therefore a characteristic to take into account if you are planning to change your vehicle or if you have not yet purchased one.
Avoid certain periods for refueling
It is better to avoid refueling on the eve of certain deadlines such as School vacation where the long weekends, especially if your vehicle’s fuel tank is easily accessible. You will limit the amount of stolen fuel and thus preserve your wallet!
Use anti-siphon devices
Still not very fashionable and installed on heavy goods transporters, the electronic sensors linked to the fuel gauge can also represent an interesting alternative.
The operating principle is simple: the tank is connected to a alarmthe latter being triggered in the event of abnormally rapid drop in the vehicle’s fuel level. If necessary, an alert is sent to the driver by text or email to the contact details previously entered. It is even possible to equip the device with a siren (which can reach 100dB !) or any other loud alert to force thieves to stop their malicious act and flee.
These connected solutions, mainly marketed to companies, could well multiply and win more and more private vehicles.
Car insurance and fuel theft
Some car insurers offer coverage in the event of damage occurring during fuel theft (deterioration of the chute or even sometimes of the tank). However, this is not systematic as mentioned France Insurers : “if damage is observed during the theft of fuel, vandalism warranty may apply and pay for the repair of the vehicle.
If your car insurance pays for fuel theft under vandalism coverage, note that:
- You will only be compensated if the culprit of the vandalism is foundin the event that you are insured against third parties;
- In the case of a subscription to a contract ofBack to back insurance, you are reimbursed, under the relatively broad coverage offered by it. Attention, the deductible of all-risk car insurance is much higher because it covers you more.
Fuel theft: what penalties?
Fuel thieves obviously commit a offense and face a penalty of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros by virtue of article 313-5 of the Penal Code.
In addition to the financial harm they inflict on their victims, fuel thieves return the vehicle they potentially rob dangerous. Indeed, a punctured tank transforms a moving vehicle into a real walking danger. As the fuel is highly flammable, the risk of fire increases tenfold, especially in contact with a badly extinguished cigarette or a very small spark. In addition, prolonged exposure to the smell of gasoline (containing carbon monoxide) can be harmful and cause poisoning that is often fatal.
If you notice a hole in your car’s fuel tank and suspect an act of vandalism, immediately contact the police by calling 17 and file a complaint. It is even possible that several vehicles in addition to yours have been stolen in your area of residence! We also recommend that you keep an eye out and report any suspicious behaviorespecially if you notice the presence of one or more individuals who carry cans used to contain gasoline not far from your home.
And you, have you experienced or witnessed such a malicious act? Do not hesitate to share your experience or any tips to avoid these thefts to the LeLynx.fr community!