Petrol Theft and HGVs: How to Protect Your Vehicle

In most cases, driving an HGV actually reduces a driver’s risk of running into criminals thanks to the vast amount of distance they cover. It is typically harder to hit a moving target than a stationary one! Unfortunately, there are a few crimes out there that are disproportionately aimed at HGV operators. One good example is petrol theft. In some cases, the contents of an HGV’s fuel tank can be just as valuable as the cargo it’s hauling. A vehicle’s fuel is also often much less well-protected than its cargo. HGVs left unattended during rest stops are particularly vulnerable, as are those parked overnight in unsecured locations. A HVG expert HGV Training Prices tells us “When a fuel thief strikes and robs an HGV driver of petrol, the amount of hassle involved in clearing up the situation can be tremendous.”

Stealing Petrol – Why?

The motivation for petrol theft is very simple: it’s a valuable commodity. Though oil prices fluctuate constantly, the value of ready-to-use fuel is always high. Reselling stolen fuel in bulk can become an extremely lucrative endeavour for criminals. The specialised fuel employed in HGVs is actually even more valuable on the black market than ordinary petrol. This makes petrol thieves willing to accept a surprising degree of risk in order to gain unlawful access to valuable fuel. Unfortunately, fuel siphoning is a risky business for both the victim as well as the perpetrator. Drivers who overlook a fuel theft may put themselves at risk of vehicle damage or even fires.

How Do Petrol Thieves Operate?

Fuel siphoning is typically facilitated by passing a length of tubing through the filler cap and into the vehicle’s fuel tank. Sucking on the free end of the tube to create a vacuum will cause the fuel to flow through. The thief may end up with a stray mouthful of fuel to spit out, but once the flow is started fuel will drain on its own into whatever containers the thief has ready. Once the theft is complete, it is a trivial matter to extract the tube and replace the cap of the fuel tank. The time required is between three and fifteen minutes, governed by the total amount of fuel is stolen.

What Can I Do To Stop Petrol Theft?

Because fuel theft is an increasingly common problem, a number of different solutions have been put forward in recent years. Alarms are increasingly common, but Co-Op has hit upon a more ambitious and foolproof solution. The company is fitting new anti-theft devices, called ‘impregnable-HF’, to its extensive fleet of HGVs. The device takes the form of a floating lock valve which rests on top of the fuel in the vehicle’s tank. This makes it entirely impossible to extract fuel from the filling cap. Siphoning, skimming and other forms of extraction are rendered physically impossible. Besides protecting the company’s vehicles against theft, this new device also guards against overfilling and accidental spills.

Other Anti-Theft Measures You Can Consider Include:

  • Beefing up security measures (lighting, cameras, fences and so on) in fuelling yards. The sheer number of heavy vehicles in these facilities make them attractive targets for fuel thieves. Most effective forms of security make it more difficult for unauthorised personnel to access your fleet. They also serve as a potential deterrent to discourage attention from prospective thieves.
  • Park defensively when in transit. Whenever possible, you should park with an eye towards restricting fuel tank access as much as you can. Parking close to trees, walls and other obstructions works well. Nevertheless, be careful not to block other drivers’ routes when parking!
  • Do not park your HGV in unsecured areas and leave it unattended. Roadside lay-bys are particularly risky. Whenever possible, leave your HGV in a monitored parking area or behind a secure gate.

While ferrying cargo across a country, a good HGV driver should rightly be concerned with driver safety, both his own and that of the other drivers around him. Extended periods of driving are tough work and they often leave drivers drained. This is one reason that HGV drivers sometimes forget the basic safety precautions required to keep their vehicles and their fuel safe when they are taking breaks. It’s important not to neglect this key form of security; stolen fuel typically causes both financial losses and a significant amount of stressful hassle. A few basic precautions as such will go a long way toward improving the security of your vehicle’s fuel and protecting you from threat.