Couple of gallons short?

Aug. 1, 2008
Diesel Fuel Prices are at an all-time high, and so are diesel fuel thefts. Law enforcement agencies around the nation have been reporting an escalation

Diesel Fuel Prices are at an all-time high, and so are diesel fuel thefts. Law enforcement agencies around the nation have been reporting an escalation in incidents of thieves stealing fuel from trucks.

While the theft of diesel is a growing problem, it's not easy to get a grip on how much it's costing the industry.

Fleets that have a truck down because the fuel tanks were drained don't always report the theft. The attitude is: Why bother calling the police, as this could mean a more prolonged delay in getting the truck back on the road.

There's also the feeling that law enforcement has weightier matters to be concerned with.

The current trend of fuel thefts isn't likely to go away any time soon. More and more financially strapped truckers, especially owner operators, are seeking alternative, and often times illegal, fuel sources in an attempt to stay in business.

Because of skyrocketing fuel prices, many truckers are finding it difficult to resist the temptation of buying cheap fuel, or selling fuel.

You may not even be aware that you have a fuel theft problem. The regular siphoning of small amounts of diesel is difficult to detect.

Studies have shown that it's not uncommon for fleets with identically spec'd trucks to see as much as a 35% fuel economy difference between trucks - a difference solely due to variances in skills and attitudes of the drivers.

Consequently, the loss of 5 to 15 gallons at a time often goes unnoticed. However, done regularly over time, the losses mount up.

Management controls ought to be in place to monitor fuel usage by individual drivers. Keep track of fuel purchases and monitor daily fuel usage so you'll know if there are any unexplained losses of fuel.

Realize that fuel theft also can take place within a company. Employees take a little diesel for themselves, or act in collusion with others.

Fuel theft has become a crime of opportunity. As the price for diesel rises, thieves have the motivation to steal because they get a fast return for little risk.

One way to deter would-be diesel fuel thieves is to remove the easiest opportunity. That can be accomplished by taking some immediate steps.

Invest in locking fuel caps. Interestingly, these devices were invented during the Great Depression because of the high rate of gas theft.

Another low-cost fuel protection mechanism is anti-siphoning devices. These are designed to easily fit into fuel tanks to prevent fuel from being stolen by being drawn out.

Care needs to be taken when selecting an anti-siphoning device. Some may interfere with efficient fuel filling, producing foaming or splashback. Others may require some drilling or gluing for installation.

Whenever possible, have your drivers park their vehicles inside an attended and/or secured parking area. At night, they should park only in well-lighted areas with the greatest visibility.

Further, advise drivers to always check the fuel gauge upon returning to their trucks to ensure diesel fuel hasn't been siphoned from their fuel tanks while parked.

If you do experience a fuel theft, notify the police. It may be difficult to report exactly how much fuel was taken, but the police would prefer to know about these crimes in case there is a pattern of theft in their area.

I welcome your thoughts and comments.

About the Author

David Kolman

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