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Kelley Blue Book: Gas theft is on the rise—how to protect your car

Watch out for gas thieves.

“Thieves will crawl under a larger vehicle, such as a pickup or large truck, and cut the rubber filler neck leading to the tank in order to siphon out the fuel.” That warning, from the Hoquiam, Washington, Police Department, is just one of the many we’re starting to see from law enforcement sources nationwide.

The Atlanta Police Department this week arrested a man for “puncturing gas tanks and stealing gasoline.”

“Thieves are not just siphoning gas out of the tank, they are drilling a hole in the tank, leading to an expensive repair,” Elk Valley Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Debra A. Katerenchuk told CNN. “The surging gas prices is one thing, but the cost to replace the gas tank is a lot more.”

“As the cost of gasoline continues to increase, we believe these cases of fuel theft from gas tanks will increase as well,” Anlleyn Venegas, spokesperson for AAA, told NBC this week.

Also see: Not ready for an electric vehicle, despite the spike in gas prices? Buckle up, here are some of the most fuel-efficient traditional cars

Gas prices are nearing record highs—AAA reports that the average cost of a gallon of gas in the U.S. March 11 hit $4.33. That’s a dollar below 2008’s record, when adjusted for inflation. But a new record may not be far away. AAA says prices rose by 49 cents in one week to reach the March 11 figure.
As gas grows more valuable, gas theft grows more common.

Also see: What to do if your catalytic converter is stolen

How to protect your car

Thankfully, the steps you can take to protect yourself are mostly free and simple — and mirror the steps needed to protect your vehicle from a wave of catalytic converter thefts that began during the COVID-19 pandemic.
They include:

Park indoors

If you can’t park indoors, park in a well-lit area

Avoid parking anywhere for an extended period. If you’re going on a trip, for instance, get a ride to the airport rather than leaving your car unattended in the long-term lot for days at a time

Position your car so the fuel door faces the road

Consider investing in a locking gas cap

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