News, Opinion

Fuel thieves continue to cause headaches for truckies


Thieves have been active around Australia stealing fuel from trucks which many drivers have described as a commodity like “Pure Gold” during the current cost-of-living crisis.

This is a major problem for companies, owner-operators and small fleet owners, not only because of the rising costs but for a bevy of other reasons.

When interviewing truckies around this big country I was alerted to the problem which has received little publicity and needs to.

It is often because our drivers just want to get on with the job and keep Australia supplied.

A NSW operator said that the biggest reason for the thefts was because many trucks did not have locked fuel caps.

“These grubby fuel thieves randomly target trucks at night and easily syphon the fuel out without the driver even knowing because he, or she, is snoozing in the sleeper box. Then when he or she awakes they find often a huge problem,” he said.

This veteran truckie said the issue is especially widespread  around Moree, Gilgandra and other close areas. In January this year Nolan’s Transport warned operators to be on guard around Gilgandra after thieves targeted its trucks in a series of brazen raids.

“We all have to get locked caps to prevent this happening and reduce the number times it can,” he said.

However, other drivers said that locked caps did not solve the problem in many cases.

A Charters Towers-based driver said that locked caps were not always in the best interests of truckies.

“They (locked caps) are fine when you travel the main highways, byways and bitumen roads. But not so on the dirt roads around the country,” he said.

So what possibly could that concern be I had to ask him?

“Every truckie who travels on these  roads will tell you that the red dirt gets around the locked cap and when you stop to fuel you can’t open it anyway so you have to break into it yourself,” he said.

While on the subject of breaking into locked caps, several others said that neither of the above provided a rock solid outcome.

“If they can’t get into the tank though a locked cap they will just cut a hose to the fuel tank and syphon it and then if you don’t carry a spare hose you have to get a mechanic out and depending on where that is it results in other difficulties,” one said.

Yet another said that those desperate to steal fuel would even resort to other measures.

“Some will drill a hole in the tank to get the fuel which results in a massive cost to get it repaired. If you are in a remote location then somebody has to come out to fix it and you are stuck there for some time,” he said.

This was especially a common occurrence in remote parts of the Northern Territory and isolated parts of Western Australia.

All of these truckles said many of the thefts were “opportunistic” .

“They see a parked truck late at night in the dark and get some fuel from it to save money,” he said.

But others claimed that the majority of culprits were from certain groups driving around the country, many being overseas tourists.

Everybody agreed that the thieves were people who were feeling the pinch of the rising costs of living, much which is because of flow-on from fuel costs.

“It costs so much to fill up any vehicle these days and it is getting worse. So trucks are easy targets,” he said.

Some I spoke to reckon that the ideal solution is for all trucks to be fitted with exterior cameras.

However, others pointed out that does not always work.

“These criminals front up with masks and cannot be easily identified. Only the stupid ones who park a vehicle nearby which has a number plate are easily identified,” one said.

Every truckie I spoke to said that any incident of fuel theft should be reported to police.

Some said that even if culprits were apprehended often courts were lenient.

“They need to do jail time as fuel theft has a flow on effect to the entire community,” one said.

Perhaps the last word on cameras should go to the southern Queensland driver.

“A fellow driver I know has cameras situated on his mirrors and had his truck tampered with. Unbeknown to the thief, he is on camera, full facial identification was made, the police have this footage. Beware all you thieves out there.

“Pictures and videos do not lie.”

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