We may assume that an HGV would not be the prime target of criminal activity on the road, nevertheless, the value assets in motion have not gone unnoticed by the criminal element. There have been more and more instances of petrol theft targeting these well-fuelled vehicles. It is fairly common knowledge that the fuel supply of an HGV often exceeds the value of the cargo being transported. It is also easier to access the fuel load than the cargo bay and carry away a stolen prize undetected by HGV drivers.
Stopping in unsecured locations for any extent of time, but especially for an overnight rest, carries the risk of a petrol thieves stealing into the fuel tanks and siphoning away the valuable fuel. Leaving the unassuming driver to rectify the matter.
Why Steal Petrol?
The primary reason for petrol thievery is the value of the loot. Fuel is a valuable commodity and despite the rise and fall of oil prices has remained so consistently. It can also be sold on the black market for considerable remuneration for the risky criminal business. HGVs make a primary target as they typically carry large quantities of high-value specialist fuel. This can gather a higher payment from black market patrons.
But siphoning petrol is a dangerous operation, not only for the thief but the driver as well as the vehicle. Removing fuel from the HGV tanks can damage the vehicle and carries the risks of fire and explosion.
How Is It Done?
Typically, a petrol thief will insert a long tube or hose through the fuel intake and into the tank itself. They will then need to hold the other end of the tube to their lips and create a suction that starts the fuel flowing. They will have to intake a mouthful of fuel before dropping the hose into their inconspicuous container and letting gravity capture their booty.
When they have taken their fill, the thief will lift the hose and hopefully replace the fuel cap. Depending on how much they hope to take, how prepared the thief is and if the heist can be completed in 3 to 15 minutes.
How Can I Prevent It?
Fuel theft has become an increasingly more common occurrence in recent months. This has led to the development of various innovative anti-theft solutions. Most of these are alarms, but Co-Op has already snapped up another promising solution to stolen fuel.
The giant transportation group had taken measures to protect their fleet of vehicles from all manner of roadside dangers earlier this year. The installation of a fuel protection device was one of these steps to improve HGV safety. The device applied is called an ‘impregnable-HF’, and can effectively block all access to the fuel tank. This is accomplished with a floating lock valve that rests on the surface of the fuel and locks off the fuel when the tanks are completely filled. This device forms a protective barrier that prevents siphoning and also spillage and overfilling, saving the company cash as well.
Other ways to thwart petrol thieves are:
- Improve security in fuelling and vehicle yards. In addition to surveillance systems and lighting, fences should be installed. With all the vehicles in one place and the drivers only partially attentive, these spots are gold mines to the fuel thieves. Make it as difficult if not impossible as you can for unauthorised persons to come and go unnoticed.
- Park defensively when stopping anywhere along the road. Even if you are just into a store to use the facilities, park the HGV in a way to block fuel tank access. This can be done against the side of a wall or a tree. Just be sure to mind the convenience of other drivers.
- The HGV should never be left unattended, especially for long periods of time or overnight. Make sure the vehicle is locked away behind a gate or secured in a monitored car park. Never leave the HGV in a lay on the side of the road, this is a handout for thieves.
While on the road the mind of an HGV driver must be fully focused on the road and the safety of other divers and themselves. Because this is a mental exercise, it can be draining after long hours. When they finally stop for their well-deserved rest, safety procedures can slip the mind. This is where making small adjustment for greater safety can save you from frustration and financial loss.