The fuel has become increasingly difficult to come by in the past two weeks as strikes continue at French refiners TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil.
It means the risk of fuel theft is higher, but there are a number of ways vehicle owners can help prevent their tanks from emptying.
It is estimated that every year six million liters of fuel are stolen in France, Car Plus reports, and heavy vehicles are often targeted by thieves.
However, since the beginning of this year, police forces have also received hundreds of reports of fuel thefts from private car owners.
To prevent thieves from stealing fuel from your tank, it is of course helpful to keep your car in a secure garage or parking lot if possible.
If not, it is advisable to park so that the fuel tank cap is close to a wall to make it difficult to access.
Police forces have also said that parking lots and well-lit areas are the least frequent target for thieves, so if you have your vehicle parked on a driveway, it might be worth considering installing motion-sensing lights.
It’s best not to fill up before a long period of absence, such as a weekend or vacation, as these are the times when thieves tend to strike.
If you can’t keep your car in a secure parking space, it may be worth purchasing a device such as an anti-siphon valve, which stops the flow of fluid out of the tank. These can be installed by the car owner or by a mechanic.
Some cars are also equipped with locking fuel caps, and if not, it is possible to replace the existing cap with this more secure option. However, you will need to make sure that the lid is sealed properly, otherwise the check engine light could come on.
Also, if the thief is prepared to drill a hole in your tank to empty it, a blocked fuel cap won’t help.
What do thieves risk?
Fuel theft is classified as a offensea crime judged more serious than an infraction, which could involve traffic violations or disorderly conduct, for example.
However, it is less serious than a crime, a category reserved for the worst crimes, such as murder and rape.
People who steal gasoline or diesel are exposed to a sentence of up to six months in prison and a fine of up to 7,500 euros.
However, if someone decides to resell the stolen fuel, the crime becomes mistrust of vol (receiving or possessing stolen goods), and the penalty increases to a potential sentence of five years in prison and a fine of €375,000.
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