The Automobile Club of Southern California this week issued a warning about a possible spike in gasoline theft as prices skyrocket to record highs daily.
The average price per gallon of regular in California climbed to a record $5.72 Friday — jumping up from $5.07 just a week ago, according to AAA.
In the Los Angeles- Long Beach area, gas prices reached a record $5.80 per gallon. Some area gas stations are even charging over $7 for a gallon of gas.
These high prices are triggering concerns over gas theft.
Previously, criminals would siphon the gas to remove it from a vehicle’s tank. Now, thieves are drilling directly into the fuel tank to steal gasoline, according to the Automobile Club.
That’s because newer cars have an anti-rollover valve between the fuel tank and filler neck that make it more difficult to siphon gas from the fuel tank.
Victims whose fuel tanks are drilled into by thieves face having to pay for expensive damages that could cost as much as $1,000, AAA officials said.
How can you tell if you have been a victim of fuel theft?
AAA said those who suspect they were a victim of fuel theft should look for the following signs:
- The smell of gas as you approach your vehicle
- A puddle under your vehicle near the fuel tank
- The vehicle is not starting
- The vehicle starts but the fuel gauge shows fuel is missing and/or the check engine light comes on
What should you do if you confirm your vehicle has been tampered with?
- Contact the police to file a report
- Reach out to your insurance agent to find out if your policy covers the repair
- Take your vehicle to get fixed as soon as possible
Here are some tips from AAA on how to protect your vehicle:
- 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 in a garage, find a parking spot near the exit or elevator since those have the most visibility and foot traffic.