Police urge citizens to guard against gas theft

WELLINGTON CTY. –   Policing agencies everywhere have noted a recent increase in gas thefts.

OPP Constable Mark Cloes said that same spike in thefts was evident the last time fuel prices escalated, and as the price of fuel climbs so will the likelihood of more gasoline thefts.

Most of the thefts investigated within Wellington County by the OPP thus far have been “drive offs” at local gas stations, where self serve customers fill their tanks and drive away without paying. In some cases, the theft may leave a young station employee on the hook for the cash register shortfall.

Cloes said the high prices create the desire for free fuel, whether that be a drive-off or using a siphon hose to pilfer it from a private tank. The opportunity to commit the crime is all that is needed and this is the one area citizens control. There are a number of ways they can remove the “opportunity” and reduce the chances of becoming a victim.

Here are a few tips that may prevent people from becoming a victim:

– Consider installing a locking gas cap. Remember that many of the “fuel doors” that open remotely or with a key are flimsy, and easily compromised.

– Avoid parking in dark, isolated areas (especially for extended periods).

– At home park in a locked garage where possible. If you don’t have a garage park as close as possible to the house and avoid parking on the street.

-Those who must park on a street or in a parking lot should attempt to locate the vehicle so the fuel door is visible to other residents in the area.

– If there is bulk fuel stored on a property, lock the tank and or dispenser to prevent access.

– Do not hesitate to call police if seeing suspicious activity in an area where fuel is stored or around parked vehicles. Be a good witness. Record the licence plate number or vehicle or suspect descriptions.

Cloes noted it might cost over $100 to fill a vehicle these days, so take some precautions against fuel thefts.