Protecting Against Gas Thieves

Jade Moon
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Wednesday - June 25, 2008
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Got gas?

Well, apparently, if you do there are some nefarious ne’er do wells out there who would like to take it off your hands - or, rather, out of your tank.

That’s right, folks. Like gold and diamonds, gasoline is now considered so precious that it may be reviving a form of thievery not seen since, well, the last time the prices jumped. Gas siphoning may be making a comeback.

I say may, because so far the only evidence, according to HPD, is anecdotal. Spokeswoman Michelle Yu says the department hasn’t kept records on gasoline theft but has instructed its officers to start tracking the numbers.

It has been reported that larger companies are being hit. Makes sense. Big rigs and buses carrying substantial amounts of fuel are tempting targets, and the payoff is relatively large. But so far police haven’t seen any hard evidence that individual car owners are being victimized more than usual.

Still, auto parts stores are selling a lot of locking gasoline caps to worried car owners. The gadgets cost about 20 bucks and fit almost all models of vehicles. But do they work?

Lance Arakaki, manager of Larry’s Auto Parts in Kaimuki, says they do and they don’t. It is fairly easy, he says, to break open a locking gas cap. All the determined thief needs is a pair of pliers and/or good old brute force-I’ve even heard of someone using a drywall screw to jimmy the thing apart. So no, it’s not guaranteed.

Its real value, then, is deterrence. Like that other anti-theft device, The Club, the locking gas cap is not foolproof, but seeing it attached to a car might encourage the bad guy to move on to an easier target.

There aren’t many strategies out there to discourage potential gas bandits. HPD’s Yu says she’s heard of people parking their cars really close together to make it impossible for the thief to get to the cap. They can park in well-lighted areas to deter thieves.

Other than that, she says, police have no real guidelines to help people concerned about protecting their precious petroleum. The gas cap locks may not be perfect, but at least they’re something.

But of course, there are the baddies who forego the gas cap route altogether. Instead, they drill right into the tank. Effective, but stupid. All it takes is one spark- and KABOOM! Are third-degree burns and possible death worth it for a 65-dollar payoff?

Unfortunately you know these Darwinian losers are out there. And there may well be more of them as gasoline prices continue to rise.

There’s only one solution. Electric cars.

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