Monday, May 23, 2011

Fuel Cost Sparks Truck Crime As Haulier Attacked

Motorway Service Areas Need Upgrade Says RHA
Shipping News Feature

UK – As the price of fuel has increased apparently the latter day spectre of theft from parked vehicles is returning to haunt road haulage outfits, as well as ordinary motorists. The large quantities of diesel used by a freight or general delivery truck is bound to appeal to cash strapped thieves, some of whom it appears are willing to resort to violence.

Motorway service areas can be hotspots for truck crime and the Road Haulage Association (RHA) has been campaigning for years for improved security at these sites. As fuel prices rise, diesel has become a highly valued commodity among criminals who sell it on for a 'below market' cost. This activity is creating large losses for haulage firms in particular.

The RHA tells us that one of their members was recently threatened with physical harm by several individuals intent on siphoning diesel from his tank while he was parked at Donington Park Services on the M1 northbound. 40 litres of diesel were taken and although the driver of the Fife-based company was left physically unharmed he was, quite understandably, extremely shaken by the whole episode. RHA Head of Security Chrys Rampley said:

"There are thieves out there who are prepared to sit and wait for hours until the right moment to siphon the fuel. However it is a rare occurrence for a driver to be approached and threatened in this manner. When you consider the price drivers and hauliers have to pay to use motorway service facilities, it is scandalous that security is not of a higher standard at these sites.

“The response from the police is patchy; many don't record the offence due to the simple fact that once siphoned off, stolen fuel cannot be positively identified as there are no tell-tale marks or fingerprints. At a time when UK hauliers are really feeling the pinch as a result of record fuel prices, to have their fuel stolen is adding insult to injury and we shall be doing all we can to bring this scandalous practice to the attention of the motorway site operators. It seems that some individuals will stop at nothing and it won’t be long before someone is hurt”

According to the Forecourt Manager at Donington, this is the first case of this nature they have experienced. They are aware of occasional fuel thefts at their site but most are ‘drive-offs’ from the forecourt itself. Whilst truck representatives in the US regularly campaign for safer parking it seems even the reasonably well lit and comparatively safe parks in the UK can still be dangerous places.

Unfortunately there is almost inevitably going to be an upsurge in fuel thefts of all types with each of the larger trucks capable of carrying hundreds of pounds worth of, quite literally, liquid assets and drivers should take extreme care when parking up, especially at night.

Photo: The inimitable Cheech and Chong show a lighter side to a serious crime.