With gas prices creeping to new record highs daily in Southern California, the Automobile Club of Southern California is warning about a possible increase in gasoline theft.
For a long time, siphoning was a popular method used to remove gas from a vehicle’s tank. But newer vehicles have an anti-rollover valve between the fuel tank and filler neck. This valve prevents gas from spilling out in the event the vehicle is involved in a rollover crash to lessen the chance of fire. It also makes it more difficult to siphon gas from the fuel tank. However, thieves have begun to drill directly into the fuel tank to steal gasoline, which causes expensive damage to targeted vehicles costing as much as $1,000 or more.
AAA suggests you take the following precautions to protect yourself and your vehicles:
- Park in the garage at your home if you have one.
- When out in public, park in a well-lit area with high traffic. If possible, park in a secure location like a fenced-in lot or parking garage.
- When parking in a garage, find a spot near the exit or elevator as those have the most visibility and foot traffic
If you suspect you have been a victim of fuel theft, you should look for the following signs:
- The smell of gas as your approach your vehicle
- Puddle underneath your vehicle near the location of the fuel tank
- The vehicle does not start
- The vehicle starts but the fuel gauge shows fuel is missing and/or the check engine light is illuminated
Once you confirm your vehicle has been tampered with, you should:
- Contact the police to file a report
- Reach out to your insurance agent to learn if your policy covers the repair
- Take your vehicle to a trusted repair facility as soon as possible. You can find a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop by visiting www.aaa.com/repair.