Simply put - fuel is expensive. We’ve all seen the Mad Max movies, right? And while we aren’t quite in Thunderdome yet, there is no denying that fuel is gold when it comes to the trucking industry.
Fuel is a trucker’s highest expense. The same goes for fleets. Without it, the trucking industry (and our economy) would basically come to a halt. This makes diesel essential to protect and very attractive to steal.
Historically, when fuel prices rise, so does the incidence of fuel theft. That said, fuel is always a target of theft, regardless of retail prices.
In 2008 alone, fuel theft cost the trucking industry $8 billion in the United States alone (according to the RFID Switchboard).
So, what can you do to protect the fuel in your truck? Here are some tips and products that help keep your fuel in your tank where it belongs.
It Matters Where You Park
Thieves are not that ambitious. Like any criminal, they will go for the easiest target first. That means the truck parked in the dark corner of the lot is a lot more enticing than the one under lights.
When you’re on the road and need to stop or stay overnight, park in a highly visible, well-lit area. This is common sense, not just to prevent fuel theft, but to improve the overall safety of your truck (and you).
Owner-operators who park on their own premises should take steps to secure the area:
- Install a locking fence around the property.
- Use commercial grade security lighting
- Install an alarm system
- Install surveillance or at least motion detection cameras
- Hire security if you experience recurring theft (it may cost less to employ someone than to recoup stolen fuel/cargo).
Lock the Tank
One way to keep thieves out of your tank is to lock it. Here are a few options to consider:
Locking Fuel Caps
Locking fuel caps replace the tank’s existing fuel cap. They usually come with two or three keys. Multiple caps can be keyed alike to make life easier.
While simple to use and install, the most complicated part of locking fuel caps is figuring out which will fit your tank. Though they are often listed with the truck brand in the title, fitment depends on the inner diameter of the existing cap. If there is no existing cap, you would need to measure the outer diameter of the fill neck.
Though there are many sizes available, some tanks’ dimensions cannot be matched. Or, the cap must be vented, but it’s too small to have both a vent and a lock. That said, there is a fitting cap for most Class-8 tractors.
Locking Fuel Cap Covers
If replacing your existing fuel cap does not appeal to you, another option for fuel security is a locking fuel cap cover .
A locking fuel cap cover is an aluminum clam-shell type cover that fits over your existing fuel cap and locks. It spins freely once in place and prevents access to the fuel cap. Like the locking caps, the covers can be keyed alike.
Sold through Bud And Tony’s Truck Parts, the locking fuel cap covers come in just four sizes. This makes fitment a lot easier. The main measurements you need are the outer diameter of your existing cap, and in some cases, its height. Covers come with three keys and are sold individually.
With a locking fuel cap cover, you don’t have to worry about replacing your existing cap.
An Anti-Siphon valve fits within the fuel tank, preventing someone from being able to siphon fuel out. Installation is fairly simple and fitment is based on the inner diameter of the filler neck.
If you use an anti-siphon, you do not necessarily need to use a locking cap or cover. That is, if your main concern is fuel theft. An anti-siphon does not prevent fuel tampering. Basically, you can put fluid in, but you can’t siphon it out.
On-the truck security and surveillance cameras are a great way to keep eyes on your rig when you are away (or asleep in it).
There are many Dash Cam options available, designed specifically for heavy duty trucks. These range from single, front-facing cameras that mount on the dash to multi-camera systems that provide a view from different angles. While some offer GPS and trip info in addition to a view, others simply record what is happening in front of the truck.
For security purposes, cameras that face more than one direction are the best bet, since most thefts and break-in attempts won’t come from the front. Top Dawg Electronics’ TD 4-Camera 1080P Trucker Dash Cam comes equipped with a “Parking Mode” that records only when the camera senses motion. Most other multi-camera systems offer the same programming. Many can be monitored from your cell phone.
Anything that will give you the jump on someone looking to do you or your truck harm is an essential part of your security plan.
Other Things You Can Do
Some simple actions can help prevent fuel theft. Here are a few tips:
- Fill up in the morning before you take off instead of the night before.
- Always check your fuel gauge before you leave the truck or go to bed and again when you return to it. If there is a loss, report it to law enforcement immediately.
- Never leave your truck unattended when fueling.
- Consider installing steel fuel lines, which are harder to cut. Believe it or not, a persistent thief may go for your lines if a locking cap or cover thwarts a first attempt.
- Practice Situational Awareness. Pay attention to suspicious people and talk to others about their experiences at truck stops.
No matter what fuel prices are, as my Dad says, “there are a$$holes everywhere.” As long as fuel is valuable, there will be fuel theft. This means truckers and fleet owners must be vigilant in protecting the life blood of their industry at all times. It’s hard to make a living as a trucker if you’re losing thousands of dollars a month to thieves. Take steps to prevent fuel theft today.